Valencia will host the National Literary Critics' Awards from 7th to 9th April

  • Office of the Vice-Principal for Culture and Society
  • April 4th, 2022
Ángel Basanta, Maite Ibáñez i Xelo Candel.
Ángel Basanta, Maite Ibáñez i Xelo Candel.

Valencia will host the National Literary Critics' Awards on 7th, 8th and 9th April. The Critics' Award is one of the most prestigious literary prizes and is awarded every year by the Spanish Association of Literary Critics (AECL) to the best literary works published in Spain during the previous year in both poetry and narrative.

The prizes, which in this edition are organised by the AECL, the City Council of Valencia, through the Department of Cultural Action, and the University of Valencia, through the Poetry Club of the Vice-Principal's office of Culture, will be awarded by a jury made up of 25 members of the AECL, literary critics of recognised prestige, including teachers and journalists. Both the Councillor for Cultural Action, Maite Ibáñez, and the Vice-principal for Culture of the Universitat de València, Ester Alba, stressed the importance of these awards in the world of literature, and recalled that Valencia had not hosted the decision of these awards since 1994.

The event will begin on 7th April with the arrival of representatives of the association of literary critics. On the 8th, a reception with the organisers will be held at the City Council at 10.30 a.m., followed by a cultural tour of the city. A creative writing workshop for young people will also be held at the Joanot Martorell municipal library in the Marxalenes neighbourhood, led by writer Carmen Peire, with secondary school students (places are sold out). Meanwhile, the Jury will meet at the Universitat de València's La Nau Cultural Centre in different working sessions to choose the winning works. The Jury's plenary meeting will be held on the 9th and the decision will be announced at a press conference to be held in the Salón de Cristal of València City Council at 12 p.m. A total of 8 prizes will be awarded. In two categories: narrative and poetry, and in all the official languages of Spain: Spanish, Catalan, Galician and Basque, being the only award that distinguishes works in all four languages.

Several Valencians have been distinguished with this award. The list includes: Francisco Brines, Tomás Segovia, Guillermo Carnero, Jaime Siles, Carlos Marzal, Vicente Gallego, Antonio Cabrera and Luis Bagué Quilez, the last two of whom were born in Cádiz and Gerona, but ended up settling in the Valencian Community. All of them were awarded prizes in the Spanish category. The Catalan works were also awarded to: Maria Beneyto, Joan F. Mira, Ferrant Torrent, Martí Domínguez and the painter and writer Manuel Baixauli.

The history of this award

It is one of the most representative of the Spanish literary system. It is also one of the oldest, having been awarded since 1956, when it began in Zaragoza. On that first occasion it was won by Cela, with his novel La catira, and it was only awarded in the narrative category. For the first 20 years or so, the prize was awarded in Zaragoza, Barcelona and two towns in the province, Vallensana and Sitges, and was also awarded to poetry works. For many years it was intended only for Spanish authors, but from 1963, when it was awarded to Mario Vargas Llosa for La ciudad y los perros, it could also be awarded to Spanish-American authors who had published their work in our country. After the dictatorship, in 1978 the Critics' Prize began to be awarded in different cities and since 1976 it has also been awarded, both in poetry and narrative, in literature written in the four official Spanish languages: Castilian, Catalan, Galician and Basque.

The criteria for the selection of one city or another can be said to be twofold. Firstly, the proposed city must have a cultural and literary tradition of recognised prestige. As all Spanish provincial capitals and many other cities that are not provincial capitals have this guarantee, the other criterion, which is the confirmation of the interest of the local authorities, be it the City Council or the Provincial Council, in their city being chosen to host the prize, becomes extremely relevant, encouraged by the public resonance that this literary event achieves in the local, national and even Latin American media, with the consequent projection in the cultural environment of the place. This has been the case every year in all the cities where the jury's decision has been announced.

The importance of a literary prize is measured by the excellence of the winning authors. Thus, for example, narrators such as Camilo José Cela, Rosa Chacel, Gonzalo Torrente Ballester, Miguel Delibes, Francisco Ayala, Ana María Matute, Ignacio Aldecoa, Rafael Sánchez Ferlosio, Luis Goytisolo, Juan Marsé, Juan Benet, José Jiménez Lozano, Francisco Umbral, Manuel Vázquez Montalbán, Juan Eduardo Zúñiga, Luis Mateo Díez, José María Merino, Antonio Muñoz Molina, Luis Landero, Rafael Chirbes, Javier Marías, Cristina Fernández Cubas, Fernando Aramburu and the Spanish-Argentine Andrés Neuman. And Spanish-American narrators such as Mario Vargas Llosa, Juan Carlos Onetti, José Donoso, Ricardo Piglia and Mariana Enríquez. Spanish poets such as Vicente Aleixandre, Luis Rosales, José María Valverde, Blas de Otero, Gabriel Celaya, José Hierro, José Ángel Valente, José Manuel Caballero Bonald (who also won it as a narrator), Francisco Brines, Claudio Rodríguez, José Agustín Goytisolo, the Republican exile Tomás Segovia, María Victoria Atencia, Guillermo Carnero, Antonio Carvajal, Luis García Montero, Luis Alberto de Cuenca and Juan Carlos Mestre, among other leading poets. And the Mexican poet Octavio Paz.

The inclusion of Catalan, Galician and Basque literature among the prize-winning works has made the Critics' Prize the only one awarded in the four official Spanish languages. As a result, the most important Catalan, Galician and Basque poets and storytellers have seen their work recognised with this prize. Among the Catalans, Narcís Oller, J.V. Foix, Salvador Espriu, Llorenç Villalonga, Mercè Rodoreda, Josep Pla, Joan Vinyoli, Joan Perucho, Joan Ferraté, Joan Brossa, Baltasar Porcel, Joan Margarit, Robert Saladrigas, Pere Gimferrer, Jaume Cabré, Narcís Comadira, Francesc Parcerisas, Maria Mercè Marçal, Valentí Puig, Jordi Coca, Sergi Pàmies, Enric Cassases and Miquel de Palol; among Galician writers, Álvaro Cunqueiro, Xosé Luis Méndez Ferrín, Celso Emilio Emilio Ferreiro, Carlos Casares, Víctor F. Freixanes and Manuel Rivas; and among the Basque writers, Bernardo Atxaga, Ramon Saizarbitoria, Anjel Lertxundi, Felipe Juaristi, Harkaitz Cano and Kirmen Uribe.