Literary Lima: places that have inspired writers in the Peruvian capital

Emilio Fraia

Fernanda Frazão; Jussi Savolainen; Marco Pomarico; Shutterstock

A participant in the project Lima Imagined, which brought together 7 Ibero-American authors for a literary residency in the Peruvian capital, Emilio Fraia, a writer from São Paulo, recommends an itinerary of places where fiction and reality meet in Lima 


Bar Cordano


After meeting at this bar, American poet Allen Ginsberg wrote Martín Adán, a Peruvian writer, a poem, 'To an Old Poet in Peru,' with the following verses: 'While my shade was visiting Lima/ and your ghost was dying in Lima.' Opened in 1905, Cordano is located in the heart of Lima’s historic center and is one of the most traditional bars in town. 




An old resort for the Lima aristocracy, Mario Vargas Llosa lived most of his youth in this neighborhood. In his first novel, The Time of the Hero, he talks about the “humid Miraflores nights,” the “roar of stones and water” and the “smell of salt and clean sea shells” coming from the beach, “between the cliff and the water’s edge.” The neighborhood is also at the heart of another of Llosa’s best books, The Puppies, published in 1967.




This bohemian neighborhood, which looms atop the city’s cliffs, is the setting of Surf, the last of the brilliant short stories written by the ingenious Julio Ramón Ribeyro. Many artists and poets also circulated in its streets and malecones, including Martín Adán, whose masterpiece, The Cardboard House, takes place entirely in this area – “You do not understand how one can possibly go to school so early in the morning, especially when there are esplanades and the sea below,” says one of the book’s young characters.


La Herradura


This beach, in the district of Chorrillos, was a sophisticated spot in the 1960s and ‘70s. Through one of the windows of El Suizo, founded in 1936, the last of the traditional cafés there, it's possible to admire the “clean and blue” waves which poet Luis Hernández describes in one of his most beautiful verses – “the last wave/ broke so close/ to me/ that I can feel/ its thought.”


Cerro San Cristobal


It is the best place to enjoy a panoramic view of Lima. In the short story 'El niño de junto al cielo,' observing the city from above, Enrique Congrains wrote, “Eso era Lima, Lima...? La palabra le sonaba a hueco. La bestia con un millón de cabezas? Y ahora, él, con cada paso que daba, iba internándose dentro de la bestia” (“Was this Lima, Lima…? The word sounded empty. The beast with a million heads? And now he, with every step, was penetrating the beast”).


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