As every first Monday in November since 1983, the publishing house Anagrama announced today this year’s winner of the Premio Herralde de Novela [named after the publisher Jorge Herralde himself, endowed with 18,000 EUR] for an unpublished novel written in Spanish. The 2014 award goes to the writer and linguist Guadalupe Nettel (Mexico City, 1973) for Después del invierno [After the winter], in which a man and a woman tell the stories of their lives and in which the mechanisms of love relationships are shown with an incisive, humorous and moving style.
The publisher’s summary:
Claudio is a Cuban who lives in New York and works for a publishing house. Cecilia is a Mexican who lives and studies in Paris. In his past there are memories of Havanna and the pain of losing his first girlfriend, and in his present the complicated relationship with Ruth. In her past there is a difficult adolescence, and in her present the relationship with Tom, a guy of fragile health who shares her interest in cemeteries. Their destinies will intersect during a journey to Paris by Claudio. While Claudio and Cecilia describe minutely their day to day in Paris and New York, both belie their neuroses, their passions, their phobias and their reminiscenses of the past that dictate their fears, explaining how they got to know each other and the circumstances that let them to like each other, love each other and detest each other intermittently. Después del invierno shows with an incisive style, sometimes humorous and sometimes moving, the mechanisms of love relationships and their different ingredients. With a background soundtrack that includes Nick Drake, Kind of Blue by Miles Davis, Keith Jarrett or The hours by Philip Glass, the love story of Claudio and Cecilia is part of a bigger tale that encompasses an important period of their lives. Each of them moves along drawing a map made of encounters and absences, of searches and insecurities, of hopes and regrets; each one, obliged by the circumstances, slides into the abyss of their mental defeats in search of the keys to relate both to others and to themselves and to construct, if possible, their own oasis of happiness. Guadalupe Nettel has written a round novel of an unusual ambition and intensity that masterly delves into her recognizable universe, the one of those living at the margins, estrangement, anomaly. With this novel Nettel earns a definite place among the essential voices of contemporary Latin American narrative.
Already available in English is Nettel’s Natural Histories; in June 2015 there will be published The Body Where I Was Born, both of them translated by J. T. Lichtenstein. A short interview with the author can be read at bookslut.com.
This year’s runner-up for the Herralde was Manuel Moyano (Córdoba, 1963) with El imperio de Yegorov [Yegorov’s empire], also to be published by Anagrama (publisher’s summary in Spanish).