Sant Jordi is a great day for literature, and especially for Catalan book sellers who earn 5 to 8% of their annual revenue on this day alone. But the books leading the best-selling lists of that day normally are not those considered the best by literary critics.
Ten days before Sant Jordi, on April 13, there took place the award ceremony of the Spanish literary critics’ awards (Premios de la Crítica) for the best books published in 2012. Unlike the prizes awarded by the publishing houses, that use these as a cheap way of promoting certain books, the critics’ awards are not endowed financially and not followed by advertising campaigns, but they carry a lot of prestige.
This year’s winners in the four official languages of Spain were:
Best novel written in Spanish: La hija del Este [The daughter from the East] by Clara Usón (Barcelona, 1961) [also winner of the Ciutat de Barcelona (City of Barcelona) and Continuará (To be continued) prizes]. Usón’s sixth novel is, according to the jury, “… a work of easy reading but that reflects deep thinking.” The plot evolves during the Balkan wars that led to the split up of Yugoslavia, and it is based on declarations collected by the Spanish news agency Efe. It goes back to the origins of the countries that made up Yugoslavia and “synthesizes very well the whole conflict”. Parallel to this, it explains the experiences of a recently graduated MD who is the daughter of a bloodthirsty general who caused terror during the whole conflict.
Best novel in Catalan: En caure la tarda [With the dawn] by Jordi Coca (Barcelona, 1947). A novel that portrays the thinking of Miquel Gironès, a 60-something isolated at home, who rewrites his own history and distorts the memory of those who surrounded him long time ago; a contemporary Robinson with whom Coca wanted to draw a politically incorrect portrait of the “mediocrity” of today’s Catalunya, according to his own words when presenting the novel.
Best novel in Basque: Martutene by Ramón Saizarbitoria
Best novel in Galician: Morgana en Esmelle by Begoña Caamaño
Best poetry book in Spanish: La bicicleta del panadero [The baker’s bycicle] by Juan Carlos Mestre
Best poetry book in Catalan: Vetlla [Watch] by Jordi Llavina [also winner of the Octubre (October) prize for poetry]
Best poetry book in Basque: Bitan esan beharra [“Twice to say”, acc. to google]
Best poetry book in Galician: Os ángulos da brasa [“The ember’s angles”, acc. to google]
[Most of the information contained in this post is taken from the original article by Pedro Vallín, entitled “Els barcelonins Clara Usón i Jordi Coca, premis de la Crítica”, La Vanguardia, 14/04/2013, p. 54]