The Feast of the Goat is a novel in which the personal and the political seem to be inextricably intertwined because you focus on the consequences of a dictatorship in the lives of its victims, years and even decades after the regime has ceased to exist. To what extent did your own feelings about Latin American dictators, and not just Trujillo, the dictator of the Dominican Republic, on which the novel is based, play a role in the conception of this novel?
I wrote The Feast of the Goat not only because of Trujillo, but also because of the dictatorships of my own country, those I had experience of in Peru, the Odría dictatorship, for example, and all the various military dictatorships that we experienced in Latin America since the 1950s. In a way, all these experiences come together in the novel, The Feast of the Goat. That being said, the most direct experience that compelled me to write this novel was a stay in the Dominican Republic of eight months in 1975.
Trujillo had been killed many years earlier, but he was still the main topic of conversation among Dominicans of every social class. He was still looming large over the country; sometimes they still spoke of Trujillo with fear. In other cases, they told all kinds of anecdotes, stories, and I heard such incredible things that I started to investigate a little bit, to read the testimonies. My fascination grew, because I think the Trujillo dictatorship was probably the emblematic expression of a phenomenon, of a political phenomenon, that almost all Latin America experienced in the twentieth century. Trujillo had all the characteristics of the dictator.