The exaggerated life of Alfredo Bryce Echenique: a look from El Búho to the Peruvian writer

This Owl is not surprised that the movie ‘A world for Julius’ is telling the time in movie theaters. This columnist is going to let critics comment on the film. Rather, I am going to concentrate on recapitulating the “exaggerated life” of Alfredo Bryce, since many of the boys who entered the room do not know the tasty anecdotes that flow from his cachalent laughter.

Definitely the novel that catapulted him to fame was ‘A world for Julius’ (1970). But make no mistake, Bryce was already emerging as a great storyteller. In 1968 he dazzled with his storybook ‘Huerto Cerrado’. There he already sketches the Brycean universe. The upper-class boy, idealistic, tender, somewhat lonely, with a father figure that imprisons him. From that book I keep the remarkable story ‘With Jimmy in Paracas’ and ‘The man, the cinema and the tram’.

Alfredo was born in Lima in 1939. Grandson of the manager of the most important bank in the country and his father, Alfredo Bryce Arróspide, also manager of the bank; and Elena Echenique Basombrío, granddaughter of a president of the country accused of mismanagement: José Rufino Echenique.

Bryce’s readers love his novels and stories as he loves them, his old figure with glasses and always happy because he has had his good drinks. On this topic, he himself is aware of which foot is limping: ‘I’d rather be a known drunk than an anonymous alcoholic’, boasts and finishes it off: “I distrust men who do not drink a drop of alcohol, but even more so of those abstainers who love to get into drinking meetings.”

There is a phrase attributed to him: “I am considered the most drunk of Latin American writers.” But the novelist does not live by drink alone. He drank from the fountains of his admired Ernest Hemingway and two other bravado: Celine and Scott Fitzgerald.

The Nobel Prize in Literature Gabriel García Márquez was awarded with Bryce’s first novel. ‘It is the intelligence of his workmanship, the mixture of subtle irony, humor, tenderness and the acute vision of the real, that make up his subject, which is why Bryce’s book is one of the best that an author has written in Latin America. ‘.


Julius was a son of the Lima aristocracy already in agony in the first decades of the last century. Bryce was also the son of that rancid aristocracy. Lavish mansions like Julius’s were going to give way, over time, to modern buildings. Only the old Country Club hotel refuses to disappear with the passing of the decades and there we can find Alfredo in a corner like a ghost with a drink and his memories if the one who approaches him falls in favor. Why did Alfredo prefer to go to study at the Casona de San Marcos and not at the Catholic or abroad? He laughs when he recognizes that in the Dean he met again with the countrymen who in his childhood were butlers and nannies, but in the role of San Marcos students.

Alfredo arrived at the Casona with an impeccable English cashmere suit and driving a spectacular Peugeot convertible car. But he confessed that his best friend was not a student in his circle. He was a student with an Andean touch from Abancaycito, Tulio Loza !, the future great national comedian.

In a conference, before a packed audience, he confessed that Tulio was his best friend. “I stopped with Tulio because he knew the most beautiful girls in the university, but especially those from outside.”

Consulted, Loza gave more tasty details, true to his style. “Alfredo was my folder partner. He was brilliant, but he had a big problem, his extreme shyness. In the living room my colleagues asked me to hesitate because they envied him for his big car and his suits. I preferred to be his friend. He once told me that he was in love with a very plump, flirtatious, tight-dressed girl who passed by the door of the Casona every day at eight to go to work in an office. ‘Help me, Tulio, talk to him.’ “Alfredo,” I said, “that girl is a chancay next to your girlfriend.” But he was mad. ‘Well, you go to find me in your car and park it at the door of the university.’ When the girl passed by, I said to her: ‘I am not speaking to you for myself, I am speaking to you through my friend, who is brilliant, he owns this Peugeot convertible and has a thick wallet.’ The young woman, the comedian added, was called Violeta and she went out with Alfredo and they were in love. What was I going to imagine that he was going to become a famous writer, ha ha ha ”.

But Alfredo retorted: “Tulio Loza wanted me to marry his sister. One day I went to visit him and his sister took care of me. I saw her and said to Tulio: ‘No more there, brother’ “, he commented between laughs.

I turn off the TV.


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The exaggerated life of Alfredo Bryce Echenique: a look from El Búho to the Peruvian writer