Mexican writer Carmen Boullosa, who was awarded Spain's Cafe Gijon novel prize last September for El complot de los Romanticos (Romantics' Plot), has said that she submitted the work for that contest as "a delicious literary joke".
Boullosa, who currently lives in New York, wrote the work - available at bookstores in Spain after being published by Siruela - to satirise the elite literary circles, the vanity of writers and the glitz surrounding them.
For this reason, the author said she carefully weighed her decision to submit the work for the prize, given all the tradition behind it.
"This prize has some very peculiar characteristics. It emerged out of a literary gathering and is not linked to money. Its fortune (doesn't come from) a publishing arrangement and that's why I submitted the entry," she told EFE after the presentation of both the winning work and the novel that finished runner-up: "Ninos rociando gato con gasolina" (Children Dousing a Cat with Gasoline) by Spaniard Alberto Torres Blandina.
Two of the jury members for last year's prize also were responsible for presenting the two works during the ceremony, which took place at Madrid's legendary Cafe Gijon.
Writer Rosa Regas presented El complot de los Romanticos, while Marcos Giralt Torrente did the same for Torres Blandina's novel.
According to Regas, Boullosa's work "is a torrent, a river of information, a thrilling and passionate novel in which the author asks who writers are and what they're made of. The jury immediately recognised the extraordinarily high level of this novel".
El complot de los Romanticos tells how one day a number of great authors who are already deceased, such as Dante, Proust, Goethe, Silvia Plath, Jane Austen, Borges, Onetti, Bolano, Cortazar and a long list that make up this author's library look for a city to serve as host of the 2007 Parnassus literary congress, which annually awards a prize for the best unpublished work by a literary master.
"It's a crazy pop novel, between carnival and essay," Boullosa said, adding that the work also pays homage to the literary masters who appear in its pages and with whom she says she has a love-hate relationship.
Madrid, New York and Mexico are the book's protagonists, along with the different languages Boullosa employs.
But, above all, it is notable for the use of a popular and colloquial language. "It's a homage to popular culture," she said. "To those languages that Dante chose when he selected Italian instead of Latin, or Borges (when he wrote) about people on the street with a Buenos Aires accent. Also to the culture of today, of the contemporary world, from fashion design to Mexican and US popular music," Boullosa said.
Giralt Torrente described the second-place novel as a "very strange work, different from everything that people from this author's generation are doing".