Moonchild's Temple

One is a Nobel Laureate, the other a Booker Prize winner. They don’t come bigger than that, do they? And yet they sit in Cartagena’s packed Teatro Adolfo Mejia to discuss the book of a French writer who died over 130 years ago.

Peruvian Nobel Prize winner Mario Vargas Llosa and Englishman Julian Barnes have had great successes in their literary careers from their different corners of the world, the first writing in Spanish, the other in English. But one thing they have in common is an infatuation with Madame Bovary, the classic novel by Gustave Flaubert. Both men have written about Flaubert –Vargas Llosa, a book-length essay (Perpetual Orgy, 1975) and Barnes a novel (Flaubert’s Parrot, 1984). And now they are here, in the Colombian seaside town of Cartagena, at the Hay Literary Festival, to discuss Flaubert.

There is something about rereading Madame Bovary in Cartagena, with its…

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