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The action of The Time of the Hero, Nobel Prize-winning author Mario Vargas Llosa's first novel, takes place at the Leoncio Prado Military Academy in Lima, Peru. There, four angry cadets who have formed an inner circle in an attempt to ward off the boredom and stifling confinement of the military academy set off a chain of events that starts with a theft and leads to murder and suicide. The Time of the Hero presents, with great accuracy and power, the cadets' nightmare life: brutal initiation rights, poker in the latrines, drinking contests; and, above all else, the strange military code which, whether broken or followed, can only destroy.
When The Time of the Hero was first published in Peru in 1962, it was considered so scandalous that a thousand copies were burned in an official ceremony at the Leoncio Prado Military Academy. That same year, the book received the Biblioteca Breve Prize, an award given to the best work of fiction in the Spanish language.
"…[A]s with other fine writers, Vargas functions on more than a single level of meaning." - The New York Times