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Mexico Flexes Cultural Muscle with Carlos Fuentes Literary Prize

By Julieta Lionetti

Consuelo Sálzar


With Spain’s dominant position teetering due to two snowballing crises — the never-ending euro-zone meltdown and the long drawn-out publishing bubble now deflating — Mexico is positioning itself as the future platform for everything Spanish. What its book industry may lack in innovation and market share is generously compensated for by the powerful vision of Conaculta (Mexican National Endowment for the Advancement of the Arts and Culture). Its director, Consuelo Sáizar, possesses just the winning combination of cultural savvy and diligence to carry the effort to victory.

Carlos Fuentes

The newly created Carlos Fuentes International Prize for Literary Creation must be read in this context of competitive cooperation on both sides of the Atlantic. A beloved author beyond the frontiers of his native language, during his writing life Carlos Fuentes won all the major literary awards in the Spanish speaking world — the Rómulo Gallegos (1977); the Cervantes (1987) and the Príncipe de Asturias (1994), among others. Now a similarly significant award will bear his name.

The winner of the award, which will be delivered annually on November 11, Carlos Fuentes’ date of birth, will receive the equivalent of US$250,000, a sculpture designed by renowned Mexican artist Vicente Rojo, a certificate, and the publication of his or her acceptance speech. To qualify, a living writer’s literary work — or the essential part of it — should already be published in Spanish.

The ambitious span of the award is apparent in the characteristics works must display in order to be considered: “This recognition is dedicated to authors who, through their works, have left an important literary legacy to the world, and who, with their words, have contributed to deciphering realities that otherwise would not have been imagined, cultivating new concepts of the human condition. Also, this award aims to recognize those who have created a work whose ingenuity and creativity has crossed social, cultural, linguistic, ethnic, racial, political and economic boundaries, as well as elevating the local to a global reading experience.”

The prize jury’s seven members will include a member of Spain’s Royal Academy of the Spanish Language, another from the Mexican Spanish-Language Academy, one more from another academy in Latin America and the Philippines, and four additional academic or literary figures from Mexico.

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