In The Call of the Tribe, Mario Vargas Llosa surveys the readings that have shaped the way he thinks and has viewed the world over the past fifty years. The Nobel Laureate maps out the liberal thinkers who helped him develop a new body of ideas after the great ideological traumas of his disenchantment with the Cuban Revolution and departure from the ideas of Jean-Paul Sartre, the author who most inspired Vargas Llosa in his youth. Writers like Adam Smith, Friedrich A.
Hayek, Karl Popper and Isaiah Berlin helped the author navigate through these uneasy years of intellectual formation. They showed him another school of thought that placed the individual before the tribe, nation, class or party, and defended freedom of expression as a fundamental value for the exercise of democracy. The Call of the Tribe documents Vargas Llosa’s engagement with their work and charts the evolution of his personal and philosophical ideology.
Mario Vargas Llosa is one of the world’s greatest living novelists, but, as Clive James wrote in Cultural Amnesia, his ‘true strength’ is ‘undoubtedly in the essay’.