Known for both her novels and her poetry, the Uruguayan Cristina Peri Rossi won the 2021 Cervantes Prize, the most prestigious of letters in Spanish, announced this Wednesday in Madrid the Minister of Culture of Spain, Miquel Iceta.
“The jury of the Miguel de Cervantes prize for literature in the Spanish language, corresponding to 2021, has decided to grant this award to the writer Cristina Peri Rossi,” said the minister at a press conference when reading the ruling.
To his credit, he has almost twenty books of poetry, fifteen stories and several novels, the most recent being “Everything that I could not say” (2017) and the autobiographical “La insumisa” (2020).
His first award was received in 1968 in his country, and since then he has won the Rafael Alberti International Poetry Prize (2000), the Don Quijote Poetry Prize or the José Donoso Ibero-American Literature Prize (2019), a list crowned by this Cervantes Prize.
In an interview he gave to the Spanish newspaper El País in 2017, he was asked to whom he would award the Cervantes Prize, to which he replied: “Cristina Peri Rossi, so she can keep writing.”
“It is known, but nevertheless I cannot resist giving you some information,” said Minister Iceta before providing information on the 79-year-old writer, the third from her country to achieve Cervantes, after Juan Carlos Onetti (1980) and Ida Vitale (2018).
Cristina Peri Rossi was born in Montevideo in 1941, published her first book in 1963 and “won the most important literary awards in Uruguay,” explained the minister.
In 1972 she had to leave her country for political reasons and moved to Barcelona, from where she had to flee again, in this case to Paris, for a couple of years, persecuted by the dictatorship of Francisco Franco (1939-1975).
“His work, the bridge between Latin America and Spain, must remain as a perpetual reminder of exile and the political tragedies of the 20th century,” the jury highlighted in its decision.
Sixth woman to receive this award, considered the Nobel Prize for Letters in the Spanish language, Peri Rossi also has Spanish nationality, and has been a professor of literature, translator and journalist, being a regular speaker at Spanish and foreign universities.
“Congratulations to Cristina Peri Rossi”, congratulated the president of the Spanish government, Pedro Sánchez, to the writer, whom he defined in a tweet as “a woman committed to social issues, who has shown in her extensive work the great concerns and debates of our time “.
Peri Rossi “always had a very clear, very resounding political commitment, which appears inextricably associated with his name, but what this award does is to ratify that, beyond his militant stance in life, he is a powerful voice in prose and in poetry, “the Uruguayan Undersecretary of Education and Culture, Ana Ribeiro, told AFP.
“For a country of three million inhabitants, it is a gigantic distinction,” he added about the third Cervantes Prize for a Uruguayan author.
He joins his name with Borges, Vargas Llosa, Paz …
With the triumph of Peri Rossi, the traditional annual alternation between Spanish and Latin American authors returns, which had been broken in previous years.
In 2020 and 2019, two consecutive Spaniards, Francisco Brines and Joan Margarit, won, and in 2018 and 2017 two Latin Americans had won, the Uruguayan Ida Vitale and the Nicaraguan Sergio Ramírez.
According to the regulations, to fail the Cervantes 2021 Prize, the winners of the previous two years must have been part of the jury, but both Joan Margarit and Francisco Brines died, last February and May, respectively.
The Cervantes Prize, the most prestigious of the letters in Spanish, is endowed with 125,000 euros (about 144.00 dollars).
Since it began to be awarded in 1976, the award has gone to authors such as Jorge Luis Borges, Octavio Paz, Mario Vargas Llosa, Camilo José Cela, Álvaro Mutis and Eduardo Mendoza.
The delivery of the Cervantes takes place on April 23, the day of the death of Miguel de Cervantes, at the University of Alcalá de Henares, hometown of the author of Don Quixote de la Mancha.
In the solemn ceremony, Peri Rossi will receive the award from the hands of the kings of Spain, Felipe VI and Letizia.