A Literary Moment

Coral Gables Hosts a Nobel Laureate

January 2020

Mario Vargas Llosa (above right), the author of such critically acclaimed novels as “The Time of the Hero” and “Aunt Julia and the Scriptwriter,” is a Peruvian writer who won the Nobel Prize for literature in 2010. Last month, he was honored at a luncheon at the Biltmore Hotel.

The occasion was a meeting of the International Foundation for Freedom, which Vargas Llosa launched 10 years ago to promote the protection of democracy worldwide. Its members include thinkers and business leaders from Spain, Portugal and the nations of Latin America. No politicians are invited.

The group meets once a year and was considering Miami. Former Cisnernos Group executive Beatrice Rangel, who chairs the city’s Innovation Council – and who has a long relationship with Vargas Llosa – suggested Coral Gables as the site. “It dovetails beautifully with the Innovation Council’s mission to strengthen the schools in Coral Gables,” she says. “Part of that is to boost reading through the Miami-Dade library system. We thought, if we bring him, we can use this opportunity to recognize and give a Christmas present to those librarians who have really promoted reading among youngsters.”

The result was a luncheon where IFF leaders were joined by South Florida librarians such as Gayle Williams from FIU’s Latin American and Caribbean Information Systems. “This is such a thrill,” said Williams. “He is one of the greats.”

The event was funded by the International Association of Librarians, and hosted by Gables Mayor Raúl Valdés-Fauli, who, along with City Commissioner Pat Keon, gave Vargas Llosa a key to the city. Vargas gave a brief speech in Spanish on the vital importance of reading, to keep young minds alert to the perils facing freedom worldwide. Said the Mayor, “It is a real compliment for the city that we were allowed to host the luncheon. But why not Coral Gables? It is an international city, and progressive.”