Peruvian-Spanish author Mario Vargas Llosa won the 2010 Nobel Literature Prize on Thursday, the Swedish Academy said.
The 74-year-old author, a one-time presidential candidate, is best known for works such as "Conversation in the Cathedral" and "The Feast of the Goat" but is also a prolific journalist.
Announcing the award, the academy hailed "his cartography of structures of power and his trenchant images of the individual's resistance, revolt, and defeat."
Vargas Llosa has won a string of major literary awards, including the most prestigious of all for a Spanish-language author, the Cervantes Prize, and had often been tipped to win the Nobel prize.
Born in Arequipa, Peru, Vargas Llosa grew up with his mother and grandfather in the city of Cochabama in Bolivia before moving back to Peru in 1946.
He then became a journalist, moving to France in 1959 where he worked as a language teacher and as a journalist for Agence France-Presse as well as for French television before establishing his reputation as an author.
His first major success came with the novel "The Green House" which appeared in English in 1966. He has since continued to produce a string of bestsellers, many of which deal with political themes and the troubled history of Latin America.
He ran for the Peruvian presidency in 1990 on a centre-right ticket, but was badly beaten by Alberto Fujimori, later to be disgraced after a string of political scandals.
Disappointed by his defeat and upset at the dictatorial turn of Fujimori's 1990-2000 regime, Vargas Llosa took on Spanish nationality in 1993 - a controversial move that angered many Peruvians.
The following year he was elected to the Spain's Royal Academy of Language, the final authority in Spanish-language grammar and vocabulary.
Last year, German author Herta Mueller took the Nobel Literature Prize for her work inspired by her life under Nicolae Ceausescu's dictatorship in Romania, and the year before it went to French author Jean-Marie Gustave Le Clezio.
The Literature Prize is the fourth of six awarded this Nobel season, following the prizes for medicine, physics and chemistry earlier this week.
Next in line is the other big crowd-pleaser, the Peace Prize, which will be announced on Friday, with many observers saying a Chinese dissident might follow in the footsteps of US President Barack Obama, who took the honour last year.
The Economics Prize will wrap up the Nobel season on Monday, October 11.
This year's laureates will receive 10 million Swedish kronor (1.49 million dollars, 1.09 million euros) which can be split between up to three winners per prize.
The Peace Prize will be handed out in Oslo on December 10, the anniversary of the death in 1896 of the prize's creator, Swedish industrialist and inventor of dynamite Alfred Nobel.
The other Nobel laureates will pick up their prizes in Stockholm on the same day.
The prizes were first awarded in 1901.