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The Princess of Asturias Foundation

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Princess of Asturias Awards

06/10/2015

Leonardo Padura, Princess of Asturias Award for Literature

Leonardo Padura (Havana, Cuba, 9th October 1955), is a Cuban novelist and journalist, known especially for his series of crime novels featuring the detective Mario Conde.

©FPA

The Cuban-born, Spanish-nationalized writer Leonardo Padura has been bestowed with the 2015 Princess of Asturias Award for Literature, as made public today in Oviedo by the Jury responsible for conferring said Award.

The Jury for the Award –convened by the Princess of Asturias Foundation– was chaired by Darío Villanueva Prieto and composed of Xosé Ballesteros Rey, Xuan Bello Fernández, Blanca Berasátegui Garaizábal, José Manuel Blecua Perdices, Luis Alberto de Cuenca y Prado, José Luis García Martín, Berna González Harbour, Álex Grijelmo García, Beatriz de Moura, Rosa Navarro Durán, Carme Riera i Guilera, Fernando Rodríguez Lafuente, Fernando Sánchez Dragó, Ana Santos Aramburo, Sergio Vila-Sanjuán Robert, Juan Villoro Ruiz and José Luis García Delgado (acting as secretary).

This candidature was put forward by Gustavo Suárez Pertierra, member of the Jury for the 2015 Princess of Asturias Award for International Cooperation.

Leonardo de la Caridad Padura Fuentes, aka Leonardo Padura (Havana, Cuba, 9th October 1955), is a Cuban novelist and journalist, known especially for his series of crime novels featuring the detective Mario Conde. Since 2011, he holds both Cuban and Spanish citizenship, the latter being granted to him by the Spanish Government via certificate of naturalization. He studied Latin American literature at the University of Havana and began his career in journalism in 1980 in the literary magazine El Caimán Barbudo and in the Juventud Rebelde newspaper.

After working for several years as a journalist, which helped him gain “the experience and life lessons he lacked”, as he has put it, he began the series of novels featuring the detective Mario Conde with Havana Blue (1991). In his crime novels, Padura makes a criticism of Cuban society, because, as he has said, “I learned from Hammett, Chandler, Vázquez Montalbán and Sciascia that it is possible [to write] a detective story which has a real feel for the pulse of the country, which denounces or touches on concrete, not just imaginary realities.” Mario Conde is a cop “laden with melancholy”, a disgruntled drinker with a messed-up life who would have liked to have been a writer. This series of novels by Padura has enjoyed major international success and has been translated into several languages, besides winning important literary awards. Mario Conde is “the way that I have found to interpret and reflect Cuban reality”, asserts Padura. In addition to the aforementioned book Havana Blue, to date the series comprises Havana Gold (1992), Havana Red (1995), Havana Black (1998), Adios, Hemingway (2001), Havana Fever (2003) and Herejes (2013). He achieved undisputed international success with his novel The Man Who Loved Dogs (2009), based on the life of León Trotsky’s murderer, Ramón Mercader. He has also written film scripts, short stories and essays, in addition to editions of his interviews and news articles.

Among other awards, Padura has received the Café Gijón Prize (1995), the Hammett Prize on two occasions at Gijón’s Semana Negra or Noir Week (1998 and 2006), the Premio de las Islas (2000), the Prix des Amériques insulaires et de la Guyane, the Prize for the Best Crime Novel translated in Germany and in Austria (2004), the Raymond Chandler Prize (2009) and the Francesco Gelmi di Caporiacco Prize (2010) for The Man Who Loved Dogs. This book also earned him the Prix Initiales (2011), the Critics Award from the Cuban Institute of Books (2011) and the Carbet del Caribe Award (2011). Holder of the 2012 National Literature Prize of Cuba and 2014 City of Zaragoza International Prize for Historical Novels, he was awarded France’s Ordre des Arts et des Lettres in 2013.

This year a total of 27 candidatures from Argentina, Chile, China, Cuba, Germany, Greece, Guatemala, Japan, Lebanon, Libya, Mexico, Poland, Portugal, Romania, the United Kingdom, the United States, Uruguay and Spain ran for the award.

This is the sixth of eight Princess of Asturias Awards to be bestowed this year, now in their thirty-fifth edition. The Princess of Asturias Award for the Arts went to American filmmaker Francis Ford Coppola, the Princess of Asturias Award for Social Sciences was given to French-American economist Esther Duflo, the Princess of Asturias Award for Communication and Humanities went to Spanish philosopher Emilio Lledó Iñigo, the Princess of Asturias Award for Technical and Scientific Research was jointly bestowed on the biochemists Emmanuelle Charpentier (France) and Jennifer Doudna (USA) and the Princess of Asturias Award for Sports was jointly bestowed on the Spanish basketball players Pau and Marc Gasol.

The Princess of Asturias Award for International Cooperation will be announced next week, with the Concord award being announced in September.

Each of the Princess of Asturias Awards comprises a Joan Miró sculpture – representing and symbolizing the Awards–, a cash prize of 50,000 euros, a diploma and an insignia. The awards will be presented in the autumn in Oviedo at a grand ceremony chaired by TM The King and Queen of Spain.

HM King Felipe VI has been the Honorary President of the Foundation since it was established in 1980. Following his proclamation as King of Spain on 19th June 2014, HRH Leonor de Borbón y Ortiz, Princess of Asturias, is now the Honorary President of this institution which annually convenes the Princess of Asturias Awards. The Board of Trustees of the Foundation decided at an extraordinary meeting in Oviedo last October to rename the institution and its awards, which are now called the Princess of Asturias Foundation and Princess of Asturias Awards, respectively.

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