The Valencian poet Francisco Brines (Oliva, 1932) is the winner of the 2020 Cervantes Prize, which failed its 45th edition this Monday. José Manuel Rodríguez Uribes, Minister of Culture and Sports, read the minutes of the jury that indicated Brines as the winner.
Brines, a great of the generation of the 50s, takes over from the Catalan Joan Margarit, winner of the award in 2019, and from the Uruguayan Ida Vitale, Cervantes in 2018. The unwritten rule that almost always is alternates the award between Latin America and Spain. A custom that was not maintained with Ida Vitale, who happened to the Nicaraguan Sergio Ramírez.
Brines prevailed over the candidacy of narrators such as Enrique Vila-Matas, Javier Marías or Luis Goytisolo, and that of the Spanish poet María Victoria Atencia. The pools also featured the Spanish Fernando Savater, Álvaro Pombo, Félix de Azúa and Luis Landero, the Chilean Óscar Hahn and Antonio Skármeta and the Mexican Ángeles Mastretta.
Considered the Nobel Prize for literature in Spanish and endowed with 125,000 euros ($ 147,000), the Cervantes ruling took on special relevance this year, since due to the pandemic Joan Margarit could not collect his award last April in the University Auditorium of Alcalá de Henares, the traditional act presided over by the Kings. Under normal circumstances, the delivery is held every April 23, Book Day and date of death of Miguel de Cervantes.
Brines is number 46 in Cervantes’ record, having split the award in 1979 between the Spanish Gerardo Diego and the Argentine Jorge Luis Borges. Later, it was established that the award cannot be divided or declared void or be awarded posthumously. In its 45-year history, the highest prize for Hispanic letters has distinguished 24 Spanish and 22 Hispanic-American authors. He had only recognized five women: the Spanish María Zambrano (1988) and Ana María Matute (2010), the Cuban Dulce María Loynaz (1992), the Mexican Elena Poniatowska (2013) and the Uruguayan Ida Vitale (2018).
Candidates such as Rafael Cadenas, Enrique Vila-Matas, Javier Marías, Luis Goytisolo or María Victoria Atencia were imposed
In the jury, gathered in person and online, were the last two winners, the poets Joan Margarit and Ida Vitale, as well as Eduardo Mendoza, winner in 2016, at the proposal of the General Directorate of the Book and Promotion of Reading. It was also made up of the director of the Royal Spanish Academy, Santiago Muñoz Machado; Tatiana Alvarado Teodorika, for the Bolivian Academy of the Language; Inés Fernández-Ordóñez, at the proposal of the Conference of Rectors of Spanish Universities; Juan Domingo Argüelles, for the Union of Universities of Latin America; María Luisa Castro, for the Cervantes Institute; Guillermo Altares, for the Federation of Associations of Journalists of Spain, and María Consuelo Eguía, for the Latin American Federation of Journalists.
Created in 1975 by the Ministry of Culture, Cervantes recognizes the trajectory of a writer who, regardless of his nationality, “with the whole of his work has contributed to enriching the Hispanic literary legacy.” “Any writer whose literary work is written, totally or in its essential part, in Spanish” can be nominated for the award.