This is arguably Vargas Llosa's biggest accomplishment to date, his opus magnum, and one of Peru's fundamental novels. Usually reviewed as a political novel presenting a masterful portrait of an archetypical Latin American regime of the fifties (corrupt, manipulative of media, ruthless in its oppression), Conversacion en La Catedral has a deeper layer that is more compelling: the destruction of the father image. Zavalita's dad lives a double life, one as a model citizen and family man in public, and another as a key member of the brutal regime and a closet homosexual (what could possibly be worst to peg on a male Latino from the fifties?). Even before finding out dad's dark secrets, Zavalita chooses the life of an outcast, rejecting his family's -his class- definition of success. In placing him in that role, Vargas Llosa brilliantly establishes a vehicle to expose traditional Peruvian perceptions on respectability, achievement in life and morality. Vargas Llosa's true accomplishment is that he lets the reader arrive to conclusions without any intent to introduce his own opinions or ideology, a chronic problem with Peruvian writers chosing politics as inspiration: Jose Maria Arguedas, Ciro Alegria, Manuel Scorza, many others. I do not think Vargas Llosa ever came close to this one again, it is a soul-baring novel of great intensity, impossible to put down. Entirely worthy of a Nobel Prize, a must read.