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Prince of Asturias Awards
Antonio Muñoz Molina, 2013 Prince of Asturias Award for Literature. ©FPA
5 June 2013
Spanish writer Antonio Muñoz Molina was bestowed with the 2013 Prince of Asturias Award for Literature, as made public on 5th June in Oviedo by the jury responsible for conferring said Award.
The jury for this Award –convened by the Prince of Asturias Foundation– was chaired by José Manuel Blecua Perdices and made up of Andrés Amorós Guardiola, Luis María Anson Oliart, Xuan Bello Fernández, Amelia Castilla Alcolado, Juan Cruz Ruiz, Luis Alberto de Cuenca de Prado, José Luis García Martín, Álex Grijelmo García, Rosa Navarro Durán, Carme Riera Guilera, Fernando Rodríguez Lafuente, Fernando Sánchez Dragó, Diana Sorensen, Sergio Vila-Sanjuán Robert and José Luis García Delgado (acting secretary).
Born in Úbeda (Jaén) in 1956, Antonio Muñoz Molina began studying Journalism in Madrid. He subsequently moved to Granada, where he obtained a degree in History of Art from the city’s university. He lived there for twenty years, working as a civil servant and as a columnist for the now defunct Diario de Granada. Over the years, he has continued to work as a columnist in the press, publishing in the newspapers ABC, El País and Ideal and the magazines Muy Interesante and Scherzo.
A politically committed intellectual and scrupulous observer of reality, Muñoz Molina sees writing as a personal treasure trove of shared experiences, as the “pursuit of the fleeting moment in which memory turns into dazzling aesthetic certainty”. Journalism and literature come together in his work, of a sober, refined and purified style, lacking in unnecessary artifice and written in a certain melancholy tone. He published his first book, El Robinson urbano, a compilation of articles published in the Diario de Granada, in 1984. His first novel, Beatus Ille [A Manuscript of Ashes], published in 1986, features the imaginary city of Mágina, a faithful depiction of Úbeda, which he was to return to in later works. Invierno en Lisboa [Winter in Lisbon] (1987) earned him the Critics Award and the National Narrative Prize. In 1991, he won the Planeta Prize for El jinete polaco, which also earned him the National Narrative Prize the following year. In 1989, he published Beltenebros. He moved to Madrid in 1992 and travelled to America the following year, where he taught for a year at the University of Virginia. He had first visited New York in 1990 and returned there in successive years with increasing frequency, eventually teaching at the City University in 2001 and 2002. In 2004, he was appointed director of the Instituto Cervantes in New York, where he wrote La noche de los tiempos [In the Night of Time] (2010). He currently lives between New York and Madrid.
For Muñoz Molina, “the writer continues the immemorial craft of storytellers, who gave shape to the shared experience of the world through oral stories. Telling and listening to stories is not a fad or intellectual sophistication: it is a universal feature of the human condition, which is present in all societies and starts early on in life”. Besides the works already mentioned, he is author of the novels El dueño del secreto (1994), Ardor guerrero (1995), Plenilunio (1997), Carlota Fainberg (1999), En ausencia de Blanca [In Her Absence] (2001), Sefarad [Sepharad] (2001), El viento de la luna (2006) and Días de diario (2007). Besides El Robinson urbano, he has also published the compilations of articles Diario del Nautilus (1986), Las apariencias (1995), La huerta del Edén (1996) and La vida por delante (2002), as well as the books of short stories Las otras vidas (1988) and Nada del otro mundo (1993), essays and the non-fiction books La realidad de la ficción (1993), ¿Por qué no es útil la literatura? (1994, along with Luis García Montero), Pura alegría (1998), Ventanas de Manhattan (2004) and Todo lo que era sólido (2013).
Translated into English, French, German, Italian and Portuguese, besides the already cited awards, Muñoz Molina has been distinguished with the Jean Monnet Prize of European Literature, the Prix Mediterranee Etranger (France, 2012), the Jerusalem Prize (2013) and the Qué Leer Prize, awarded by the readers of the magazine of the same name. He has been a full member of the Royal Spanish Academy since 1995.
According to the Statutes of the Foundation, the Prince of Asturias Awards aim “to reward scientific, technical, cultural, social and humanitarian work carried out at an international level by individuals, institutions or groups of individuals or institutions”. As part of this spirit, the Prince of Asturias Award for Literature shall be conferred on those “whose literary work represents an outstanding contribution to universal literature”.
This year a total of 18 candidatures from Bosnia, Cuba, China, Ireland, Japan, Netherlands, Nicaragua, United Kingdom, United States, Uruguay and Spain ran for the award.
This was the fifth of eight Prince of Asturias Awards to be bestowed this year for the thirty-third time. The Prince of Asturias Award for the Arts went to Austrian filmmaker and playwright Michael Haneke, the Prince of Asturias Award for Social Sciences was given to Dutch sociologist Saskia Sassen, the Prince of Asturias Award for Communication and Humanities went to US photographer Annie Leibovitz and the Prince of Asturias Award for Technical and Scientific Research was jointly bestowed on physicists Peter Higgs (UK) and François Englert (Belgium), together with the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN). The rest of awards will be announced in the coming weeks in the following order: International Cooperation and Sports, with the Concord award being announced in September.
Each Prince of Asturias Award comprises a diploma, an insignia, a Joan Miró sculpture representing and symbolising the Awards and a cash prize of 50,000 euros. The awards will be presented in the autumn in Oviedo at a grand ceremony chaired by H.R.H. the Prince of Asturias.
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