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Mexican Jorge Zepeda Patterson scoops 63rd Planeta Prize with novel 'Milena o el fémur más bello del mundo'

On Wednesday evening, at an award ceremony in Barcelona, the Mexican author won the prestigious literary award the Planeta Prize, with his novel 'Milena o el fémur más bello del mundo' ('Milena, or the most beautiful femur in the world'). The Planeta Prize, now in its 63rd edition, is an award bestowed on unpublished books in Spanish that are submitted under pseudonyms, and with false titles, in theory to avoid judges being biased by author’s reputations. In the case of the winner, the work was presented under the pseudonym Eduardo Nevado, with the fake title 'Los crímenes del cromosoma XY ('XY chromosome crimes­'). A finalist to the prize, was Barcelona journalist Pilar Eyre, who submitted her work 'Mi color favorito es verte' ('Seeing you is my favourite colour'), under the alias Coral Teide and title 'Se llamaba Sébastien' ('His name was Sébastien').

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16 October 2014 08:49 PM

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ACN

Barcelona (ACN).- In Barcelona, on Wednesday 15th October, the 63rd Planeta Prize was awarded to the Mexican author Jorge Zepeda Patterson for his novel 'Milena o el fémur más bello del mundo'. The annual prestigious literary award is reserved for unpublished works in Spanish that are written under false titles and pseudonyms. This is in theory to avoid judges being swayed by the reputation of the author, or prior knowledge of the text. In the case of the winner, he submitted the work under the fake titles 'Los crímenes  del cromosoma XY ('XY chromosome crimes­') with the nickname Eduardo Nevado. A finalist to the prize, was Barcelona journalist Pilar Eyre with her work 'Mi color favorito es verte' ('Seeing you is my favourite colour'), written under the alias Coral Teide and title 'Se llamaba Sébastien' ('His name was Sébastien'). The event took place in the Congress Palace of Catalonia, with the award handed out by the Spanish Minister of Public Works, Ana Pastor, in a ceremony chaired by the President of the Barcelona-based Grupo Planeta, José Manuel Lara Bosch, and the President of the Catalan Government, Artur Mas.


"...a neighbourhood footballer who has just been signed by FC Barcelona or Real Madrid"

The prize-winning novel has been described by the author as a "tough" story of love and mystery, set in Croatia, Ukraine and Mexico. It is a crime and political thriller, which revolves around the trafficking of a Ukrainian prostitute, featuring the mafia and corruption, and which begins in the Ukranian conflict and concludes in the Spanish city of Marbella. Zepeda, who is himself a journalist and political analyst, has described the "complicated" frame of his novel, as the protagonist is a woman of "extraordinary beauty", which, as is so often the case, "is also the tragedy". On winning the prestigious award, for what is only his second novel, the author admits it is a "quantum leap" for which he is "incredibly honoured". "I feel like a neighbourhood footballer who has just been signed by FC Barcelona or Real Madrid," he said.

Zepeda: "There are places of reality so dark that fiction is best to portray them"

At the press conference after the ceremony, Zepeda pointed out that, alongside a string of journalists such as Pérez Reverte, Stieg Larsson and Roberto Saviano, he feels that "There are places of reality so dark that fiction is best to portray them, especially those concerning the bowels of fear and power, which are difficult to portray in film/capture with a camera".

Zepeda emphasised that Milena's story was no testimony, but more an explanation of more complicated accounts. "Milena leaves Croatia at 16 years old, and her only wish is that when she dies her femur is not used like a police sword". On her journey, she is pressed into "organised crime" and becomes a victim of "sexual slavery". While the story "may seem dark" it is "transformed into a story of love and survival" at all costs. Her journey will end in Marbella, where she will "weave relationships with men and power, and be forced to deepen their phobias and hoard their secrets, to enable her to see the light at the end of the tunnel". The author explained that it is also a story of love and friendship, and one that shows it is "not easy for a female victim".

Eyre: "A love story, in a web of war, struggle, pain and suffering"

This was how finalist to the Planeta Prize, Pilar Eyre, described her book, but she pointed out it also had "lots of humour". It was a novel based on her experience as a journalist; "I have been a journalist for 40 years, and I know of many aspects of our profession that I wanted to reflect in the book". 

She also reveals that the book is in fact autobiographical; remembering the night one year and two months ago when she was at dinner with friends, and a tall man entered the restaurant, and they fell "madly in love. We had three passionate days together with an incredible intimacy". He was a French war correspondent and was then sent to Syria, "where he disappeared after a week near the Turkish border", and she later found out he had been kidnapped. Thus began a "detective story" based on the writer’s research. She had not intended to write a book about it, but was encouraged to do so by her son.

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  • Pilar Eyre and Jorge Zepeda on Wednesday evening, at the Planeta Prize ceremony (by P. Francesch)

  • Pilar Eyre and Jorge Zepeda on Wednesday evening, at the Planeta Prize ceremony (by P. Francesch)