Spanish Writer Eduardo Mendoza Wins The 2016 Cervantes Prize

The Cervantes Prize (El Premio de Literatura en Lengua Castellana Miguel de Cervantes), the highest Spanish speaking literary honour, has been awarded this year to Eduardo Mendoza, as announced today by the Spanish Education and Culture Minister Iñigo Méndez de Vigo. You can read more about Eduardo Mendoza in Wikipedia here.  You can find some entries about Eduardo Mendoza books at A Crime is Afoot. I highly recommend two of his books, his first book, La verdad sobre el caso Savolta (The Truth about the Savolta Case, 1975) and, probably his best known book, La ciudad de los prodigios (The City of Marvels, 1986), about the social and urban evolution of Barcelona between the Universal Expositions of 1888 and 1929.

The 2013 European Book Prize (Novel Category)

Spanish writer Eduardo Mendoza has been awarded The 2013 European Book Prize in the novel category for his book An Englishman in Madrid (MacLehose Press, 2013), translated by Nick Castor. Spanish title: Riña de gatos. Madrid 1936 (Planeta, 2010). (More info HERE).

The blurb reads: Anthony Whitelands, an English art historian, is invited to Madrid to value an aristocrat’s collection. At a welcome lunch he encounters José Antonio Primo de Rivera, founder and leader of the Falange, a nationalist party whose antics are bringing the country ever closer to civil war. The paintings turn out to be worthless, but before Whitelands can leave for London the duque’s daughter Paquita reveals a secret and genuine treasure, held for years in the cellars of her ancestral home. Afraid that the duque will cash in his wealth to finance the Falange, the Spanish authorities resolve to keep a close eye on the Englishman, who is also being watched by his own embassy. As Whitelands – ever the fool for a pretty face – vies with Primo de Rivera for Paquita’s affections, he learns of a final interested party: Madrid is crawling with Soviet spies, and Moscow will stop at nothing to secure the hidden prize.

Eduardo Mendoza: El enredo de la bolsa y la vida

As reported by Europa Press, Madrid, 9 March. Eduardo Mendoza will release soon El enredo de la bolsa y la vida (Seix Barral, 2012) a satire of today’s Europe and a new instalment of the adventures of his famous unnamed and mentally insane amateur sleuth; the main character of his novels El misterio de la cripta embrujada, 1979, (The Mystery of the Enchanted Crypt, Telegram Books, 2009), El laberinto de las aceitunas, 1982, (The Olive Labyrinth, Telegram Books, 2010) and La aventura del tocador de señoras, 2002, (The Adventure of the Powder Room)

The title can be translated freely as The mess of your money or your life. Taking into account that in the Spanish expression ‘la bolsa o la vida’, bolsa means money but can also mean the Stock market. 

The blurb says: (My free translation) The unnamed detective of ‘The Mystery of the Enchanted Crypt’,The Olive Labyrinth’ and ‘The Adventure of the Powder Room’ (this last one is not available in English) is back in times of crisis. Against his will, moved only by friendship and without a euro in his pocket, he returns to act again as an unexpected sleuth in today’s Barcelona in a race against the clock to dismantle a terrorist plot before the intervention of the State security services.
Years after leaving the mental asylum where they shared a room, Romulo ‘the Handsome’ proposed our hero to participate in a crime. Our hero refuses and the mysterious disappearance of Romulo is the beginning of a mess to solve a case that has international ramifications with the help of an infallible team: Quesito a teenage girl, the professional swindler Pollo Morgan, an African albino Kiwijuli Kakawa -known as el Juli, la Moski a street accordionist, the pizza boy Manhelik and señor Armengol the manager of the restaurant “Se vende perro” (Dog for sale).
Eduardo Mendoza returns with a brilliant satire, as only he knows. In which the story creates its own credibility, which, paradoxically, belongs to the detective genre and the farce turns into a moral fable. One cannot talk about the book without a smile, but it is impossible to read it without laughing, and without realising hat in the technically bankrupt Europe in which we live, a destructive and imaginative humour is not enough; you also need the gift of lucidity.

The Olive Labyrinth by Eduardo Mendoza

Esta entrada es bilingüe, para ver la versión en castellano desplazarse por la pantalla hacia abajo

Telegram Books, Release date: 1 October 2011. 240 pages. ISBN: 9781846590542.

The Olive Labyrinth, El laberinto de las aceitunas (Seix Barral, 1982), is the second book in the trilogy featuring an amateur detective, an inmate in a mental asylum whose name is unknown. The first book in the series, El misterio de la cripta embrujada (Seix Barral, 1979), is also available in English, The Mystery of the Enchanted Crypt (Telegram Books, 2008). You can read my previous post HERE. The third and last instalment, La aventura del tocador de señoras (Seix Barral, 2001), The Adventure of the Powder Room,is not available in English yet.

The argument is quite surreal and, therefore, difficult to summarize. The story begins with our ‘hero’ on a flight from Barcelona to Madrid. He has just left the psychiatric hospital where he is being held in a rather unusual way. He has been kidnapped by the police. His mission is to deliver a portfolio full of money. Soon he will find himself involved in a series of absurd situations, bizarre sometimes, and pretty funny.

“Ladies and gentlemen, on behalf of captain Flippo, who, incidentally, has rejoined service today after his recent cataract surgery, we welcome you aboard Flight 404 to Madrid ……”

This is a light comedy, a parody of detective fiction but quite entertaining and very well written. It can be placed within the Spanish tradition of the picaresque novels. Most situations are completely absurd, though. The contrast between the literary language of the main character and his lack of formal education is great fun, the best of the book, for my taste, together with the philosophical observations of our ‘hero’. If you read it I hope you will enjoy it as much as I did.

El laberinto de las aceitunas de Eduardo Mendoza

Seix Barral, 1982. 276 pages. ISBN: 84-322-4500-3

El laberinto de las aceitunas (Seix Barral, 1982), es el segundo libro de la trilogía protagonizada por un detective aficionado que vive encerrado en un asilo para enfermos mentales, cuyo nombre desconocemos. El primer libro de la serie, El misterio de la cripta embrujada (Seix Barral, 1979), también está disponible en Inglés, AQUIpueden leer mi entrada anterior. La tercera y última entrega, La aventura del tocador de señoras (Seix Barral, 2001), no está disponible en inglés todavía.

El argumento es absolutamente surrealista y, por lo tanto, resullta difícil de resumir. La historia comienza con nuestro “héroe” en un vuelo de Barcelona a Madrid. Acaba de salir del  hospital psiquiátrico donde se encuentra recluído de una forma bastante inusual. Ha sido secuestrado por la policía. Su misión es entregar una cartera llena de dinero. Pronto se verá envuelto en una serie de situaciones absurdas, a veces extrañas, y bastante divertidas.

“Señores pasajeros, en nombre del comandante Flippo, que, por cierto, se reincorpora hoy al servicio tras su reciente operación de catarats, les damos la bienvenida a bordo del vuelo 404 con destino Madrid….”

Se trata de una comedia ligera, una parodia de la novela policíaca, pero muy entretenida y muy bien escrita. Se puede situar dentro de la tradición española de las novelas picarescas. Sin embargo, la mayoría de las situaciones son completamente absurdas. El contraste entre el lenguaje literario del personaje principal y su falta de educación formal es lo más divertido, lo mejor del libro. para mi gusto, junto con las observaciones filosóficas de nuestro “héroe”. Si lo leen espero que lo disfruten tanto como yo.

Premio Planeta 2010

Spanish writer Eduardo Mendoza with ‘Riña de gatos’ (Cat Fight) has won the 59th edition of the Premio Planeta, a Spanish literary prize, awarded since 1952 by the publisher Planeta to an original novel written in Spanish (Castilian) whose top prize awards 601.000 Euros.

Within Mendoza’s work stands the saga of an unnamed detective locked up in a mental asylum. The first of these novels, El misterio de la cripta embrujada (1979), was translated into English as The Mystery of the Enchanted Crypt, Telegram Books (2009). The second novel, El laberinto de las aceitunas (1982) The Olive Labyrinth, was expected to be release this year. The third and last novel in the saga, La aventura del tocador de señoras (The Adventure of the Powder Room) was published in Spain in 2002.

%d bloggers like this: