A prize of one million euros and one of the great mysteries of Spanish literature solved: the Planet Awarda awarded last Friday to “The Beast”, the last work of the pseudonym Carmen Mola, behind which actually three male authors are hiding.
The expected failure of the 70th edition The award, which this year became one of the best gifted in the world, revealed an even bigger unknown than the winner: the identity behind the enigmatic Carmen Mola signature.
And it turns out that the successful thriller trilogy under this pseudonym is the work of the authors Jorge Díaz, Agustín Martínez and Antonio Mercero, not from a discreet teacher from Madrid.
The finalist for the award was Paloma Sánchez-Garnica with his work “Last days in Berlin”, which will receive a reward of 200,000 euros, indicated the jury of this contest in Barcelona (northeast of Spain).
The winning novel of this prestigious award, which had been submitted to the contest under a pseudonym different from that of Carmen Mola, is set in Madrid manners of 1834, in the midst of a cholera epidemic.
It tells the story of a journalist, a policeman and a girl who will try to reveal what is behind a wave of murders of humble young people in the city.
The case that was resolved tonight at the dinner presided over by the Kings of Spain at the National Art Museum of Catalonia is who the enigmatic Mola was.
And reality has nothing to do with what she had said so far in her interviews through questionnaires, where she claimed to be a woman born in Madrid in 1973, where she lived with her husband and three children.
“Behind the name of Carmen Mola there is not, as in all the lies we have been telling, a high school teacher, but three writers, three screenwriters and three friends (…), that one day four years ago we had an idea, which was crazy in principle, which was to unite our talent, a lot or a little, to write a story together ”, explained Jorge Díaz after collecting the award.
“This story was successful and turned into another, into another … and in the end it has brought us here until tonight”Díaz added about the sales success of the crime novel trilogy with which the enigmatic Mola became known, who from her anonymity claimed to have no interest in fame.
Elusive and austere, critics soon saw in this supposed teacher the “Elena Ferrante Spanish”, alluding to the successful Italian author who also prefers to hide her identity.
Mola’s true identity has sparked a long debate about the appropriation of gender and the limits of the pseudonym in the literature, as well as suspicions about the jury’s determination.
The surprise was the culmination of the traditional literary dinner where the record of this award is revealed, which was already the one with the highest economic endowment of Hispanic letters, with 601,000 euros for the winner and 150,250 euros for the finalist.
But, unexpectedly, the organizers announced the day before that the prize foreseen for the winner of this 70th edition soared to one million euros (1.16 million dollars).
With this increase, the Planet exceeds the endowment of the Nobel Prize for Literature, of 10 million Swedish crowns (about 980,000 euros or 1.1 million dollars).
Other awards of great international prestige such as the British Booker Prize, endowed this year with 50,000 pounds (about $ 69,000) or the French Goncourt, whose winner receives a symbolic check of 10 euros, offer much smaller sums.
With careful staging and abundant publicity, the Premio Planeta usually serves as a springboard to multiply the sales of authors already known in the Spanish literature scene.
In the 2020 edition, which failed in a gala with a very reduced format due to the pandemic, the first prize went to the Spanish writer of crime novel Eva García Sáenz de Urturi, with her medieval thriller “Aquitania”. The finalist was the popular television presenter Sandra Barneda, with “An ocean to reach you.”
With a record number of participants, this year 654 originals competed for the award, mostly from Spain (389) and Latin American countries such as Argentina (41), Mexico (39) or Colombia (18).
The winners of this distinction include Nobel Prize winners in Literature such as the Peruvian Mario Vargas Llosa or the Spanish Camilo José Cela, as well as other prestigious writers such as Eduardo Mendoza, Antonio Muñoz Molina, Soledad Puértolas, Maruja Torres, Juan Marsé and Jorge Semprún.
The jury for the 70th edition was made up of the Spanish philologist and academic José Manuel Blecua, the writers Fernando Delgado, Juan Eslava, Pere Gimferrer, Carmen Posadas, Rosa Regàs and the editorial director of Planeta, Belén López.
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Worldwide scandal: millionaire award reveals that bestselling writer is actually three men