There are so many “national” Spanish letter prizes that one easily gets confused. This one is for a writer’s oeuvre as a whole, a life-time achievement award, awarded by the ministry of culture, … and endowed with 40,000 EUR. The 2013 edition goes to Luis Goytisolo (Barcelona, 1935).
The Spanish daily El País has got this information (excerpts) in an article written by Winston Manrique Sabogal:
The academic Luis Goytisolo and his spirit of a literary explorer with personalities that are continually searching for themselves has been distinguished with the Premio Nacional de las Letras, … The jury valued “Luis Goytisolo’s narrative work, always committed to the search of new literary territories. His grand tetralogy Antagonía, internationally recognized, supposes a milestone in the recent history of the Spanish novel combining history, narrative and literary reflection.” Since his first book, Las afueras [The suburbs?] in 1958, there are constant changes of structure in Goytisolo’s work. Every story looks for its form, while he pursues to become part of the narrated story. Architectures, genre crossbreeding and experiments that assured him a prominent place in the Spanish speaking literature of the last 50 years. Last spring Goytisolo was awarded the Premio Anagrama de Ensayo [Anagrama essay prize] for Naturaleza de la novela [The novel’s nature] in which he alerts on the changes of and risks for this literary genre. The technologic revolution and internet “mark an epoch as important as that of the birth of the printing press,” Goytisolo said then. “What will the future be like? This is very difficult to imagine, as it was difficult to imagine in the 15th century what the printing press would mean.” In the face of the digital world’s advance, the writer thinks that “the printed book will turn into a collector’s item, something like a reserva wine for sybarites.” Despite of all these uncertainties, Goytisolo affirms that he is “optimistic as to the future of great literature.” A polemic topic that the author has settled by saying that “literature is like energy: it’s not born and it doesn’t die, it only transforms itself.” He published his latest novel, El lago en las pupilas [The lake in the pupils], last year and recognizes that he has never set out to become a novelist with a mass audience. The writer assures that he has always used the literary mixes not as something arbitrary but with the aim of getting to know reality better.
This blogger hasn’t been able to find any of Goytisolo’s novels (20+ according to the bibliography that accompanies the cited article) translated into English. Amazon.com lists a few studies on Goytisolo’s work, either quite expensive or out of print…