The Woman Behind Latin America’s Literary Boom

There was a rumor that the Spanish literary agent Carmen Balcells, who died a week ago, in Barcelona, at 85, used to keep a pistol in the top drawer of her office desk. It was a gift from Mario Vargas Llosa, from his days as a young cadet at the Leoncio Prado Military Academy, in Peru. One Spanish publisher called her “a literary superagent with a license to kill, like James Bond.” Balcells, who was dogged and discerning in her work but no stranger to good P.R., might have forgiven the...

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