Peruvian Mario Vargas Llosa, one of the most acclaimed writers in the Spanish-speaking world, has been awarded the 2010 Nobel Prize in literature.
The Swedish Academy hailed "his cartography of structures of power" and "trenchant images of the individual's resistance, revolt, and defeat."
Vargas Llosa, 74, has written more than 30 novels, plays and essays.
He is the first South American winner of the prize since 1982 when it went to Gabriel Garcia Marquez from Colombia.
The Swedish Academy said Vargas Llosa was "a divinely gifted story-teller," whose writing touched the reader.
Vargas Llosa told Spanish National Radio he thought it was a joke when he received the call in New York, where he is currently teaching at Princeton University. "I am very surprised, I did not expect this," he said.
Born in the town of Arequipa, Vargas Llosa took Spanish nationality in 1993, three years after an unsuccessful bid for the Peruvian presidency.
He has won some of the Western world's most prestigious literary medals including the Cervantes Prize in 1995 - the Spanish-speaking world's most distinguished literary honour.
His works have also been translated into 31 languages including Chinese, Croatian, Hebrew and Arabic.
His international breakthrough came with the 1960s novel The Time of The Hero which built on his experiences at the Peruvian military academy Leoncio Prado.