When I was at university in the Fifties, Latin America was full of dictators. Trujillo was the emblematic figure because, of course, of his cruelty, corruption, extravagance, and theatricalities.

Part of the reasons I have lived the life I have is because I wanted to have an adventurous life. But my best adventures are more literary than political.

If you live in a country where there is nothing comparable to free information, often literature becomes the only way to be more or less informed about what's going on.

Eroticism is born at a time in civilisation when sexual instinct becomes deanimalised and enriched with contributions from art and from literature. A world of theatricality emerges around the act of love.

No matter how ephemeral it is, a novel is something, while despair is nothing.

Eroticism has its own moral justification because it says that pleasure is enough for me; it is a statement of the individual's sovereignty.

I wouldn't reread Sartre today. Compared to everything I've read since, his fiction seems dated and has lost much of its value.

We were trained as writers with the idea that literature is something that can change reality, that it's not just a very sophisticated entertainment but a way to act.

I think if you're impregnated with good literature, with good culture, you're much more difficult to manipulate, and you're much more aware of the dangers that powers represent.

Since it is impossible to know what's really happening, we Peruvians lie, invent, dream and take refuge in illusion. Because of these strange circumstances, Peruvian life, a life in which so few actually do read, has become literary.

The novels that have fascinated me most are the ones that have reached me less through the channels of the intellect or reason than bewitched me.

A novel is something, while despair is nothing.

I love stories, and my life is principally concentrated on stories, but not with a pretense of scientific precision.

I never get the feeling that I've decided rationally, cold-bloodedly to write a story. On the contrary, certain events or people, sometimes dreams or readings, impose themselves suddenly and demand attention.

I was absolutely convinced that I wouldn't win the Nobel Prize. My impression was that the Nobel Prize in Literature was given to people more or less affiliated with, let's say, socialist ideas, and that was not my case.

Everyone is in a rush in New York, even in restaurants and in cafes. You dont have the serenity. That, I think, is very important in order to read.

Good novel is a conjunction of many factors, the main of which is, without a doubt, hard work. There are many things behind a good novel, but in particular, there is a lot of work - a lot of patience, a lot of stubbornness, and a critical spirit.

Good literature always ends up showing those who read it... the inevitable limitation of all power to fulfill human aspirations and desires.

To write is a relief from life's problems. It is a way in which you revenge yourself. In art, the writer achieves utopia. But any attempt to achieve social utopia is bound to catastrophe. If you want a society of saints, the result is hell, repression, totalitarianism, and persecution.

When I was growing up, the Spanish-speaking world was Balkanized. We were isolated. We didn't know what was happening in cultural terms in Ecuador, Colombia and Chile. Nowadays, this has changed a lot - fortunately for writers and readers. There is much more integration.

I learnt to read when I was five, and I think that is the most important thing that happened to me.

Iraq is better without Saddam Hussein than with Saddam Hussein. Without a doubt.

My three years in politics was very instructive about the way in which the appetite for political power can destroy a human mind, destroy principles and values, and transform people into little monsters.

You cannot teach creativity - how to become a good writer. But you can help a young writer discover within himself what kind of writer he would like to be.

I would like my novels to be read the way I read the novels I love.

I thought that, when I came to New York, that I would have a very life here for three months or three and a half months. And my impression is that it won't be so quiet as I wanted.

There is an incompatibility between literary creation and political activity.

The Nobel prize is a fairytale for a week and a nightmare for a year. You can't imagine the pressure to give interviews, to go to book fairs.

Writing a book is a very lonely business. You are totally cut off from the rest of the world, submerged in your obsessions and memories.

I am in favor of economic freedom, but I am not a conservative.

I think that literature has the important effect of creating free, independent, critical citizens who cannot be manipulated.

I think everybody, or the great majority of human beings, have this aspiration to become other: to live a different identity, at least for a while.

Each book, for me, has been an adventure, a period of time dedicated to study, to document certain facts, to traveling, and also to fantasize and to invent.

Only if I reach 100 years old will I write a very complete autobiography. Not before.

If you are killed because you are a writer, that's the maximum expression of respect, you know.

It isn't true that convicts live like animals: animals have more room to move around.

What is essential in love is what the French call 'amour fou.' What is that in English? Crazy love? That doesn't sound as beautiful. It's a total kind of love that not only embraces feelings, actions, but a kind of understanding of the world from the perspective of love.

I don't want to finish my life not being alive. I think that is the saddest thing that can happen to a person. I want to keep living to the end.

I think that literature is something that embraces a much larger experience than politics. It's an expression of what is life, of what are all the dimensions of life. But politics is one among others.

When I was young, I was a passionate reader of Sartre. I've read the American novelists, in particular the lost generation - Faulkner, Hemingway, Fitzgerald, Dos Passos - especially Faulkner. Of the authors I read when I was young, he is one of the few who still means a lot to me.

I work very hard, you know, but I don't think that I'm working, because what I do pleases me so much. I write about certain things because certain things happen to me.

In general, I think my freedom of invention is not limited when I use historical characters.

Today, everybody is more or less conscious of the total failure of the Cuban revolution to produce wealth, to produce a better standard of living for the Cubans. With the exception of small radical parties, Latin Americans know that it's a brutal dictatorship and the longest in Latin American history.

In 1975, I went to the Dominican Republic for eight months during the shooting of a film based on my novel 'Captain Pantoja and the Special Service.' It was during this period I heard and read about Trujillo.

Latin America seemed to be a land where there were only dictators, revolutionaries, catastrophes. Now we know that Latin America can produce also artists, musicians, painters, thinkers, and novelists.

Journalism is a way of voicing opinion, of participating in the political, social, or cultural debate.

There are so many new young poets, novelists, and playwrights who are much less politically committed than the former generations. The trend is to be totally concentrated on the literary aesthetic and to consider politics to be something dirty that shouldn't be mixed with an artistic or a literary vocation.

Prosperity or egalitarianism - you have to choose. I favor freedom - you never achieve real equality anyway: you simply sacrifice prosperity for an illusion.

I am not going to participate in professional politics again.