From The Elegant Variation, we learn about the imagined setting for Lost City Radio,
When I was on tour last, for War by Candlelight, I always found myself saying, “If Peru was an invented country, and Lima an invented city, many people would still recognize it,” and I guess I sort of followed my own advice. I invented a country, a city, drew upon my experiences in Lima, upon my travels in West Africa, upon texts I read about Chechnya (the incomparable Anna Politkovskaya, RIP), or Beirut, or Mumbai.Also, be sure to check out that interview for the author's experiences in Peru with a family looking for the disappeared.
From the LA Weekly, we learn more about the real life inspiration for the book,
Alarcón began collecting material during a trip to Lima in 1999 to research the life of his uncle Javier, a leftist professor who was “disappeared” 10 years earlier during the violent Shining Path guerrilla war that over two decades claimed 69,000 lives. His uncle’s life is the basis for the character Rey, a university botanist who ventures into the jungle and gradually becomes involved in a guerrilla movement. During his time in Lima, Alarcón was an avid fan of a radio show called Buscapersonas, or “People Finder.”The weekly also has much about the Alarcon's complex identity, as do these essays in Washington Post and Salon.