Dante hits the road.
El complot de los Románticos.
Carmen Boullosa
Nuevos Tiempos. 137.


The Parnassus is an annual literary festival with the peculiarity that all participants are master writers…already dead. During decades, The Parnassus has been celebrated in New York, and now they want to choose a new sedate: so Dante Alighieri, guided by other two (alive) writers, a young in fashion American poet and a middle-aged Mexican novelist travel to Mexico DF, on the back of three talkative rats… Between the carnival and the essay, between the novel of ghosts and the road novel, between the intellectual and the pop, Dante hits the road is an unique, creative novel of its own genre, and the local confirmation that the authoress occupies in our Hispanic letters. A brilliant celebration of the vigorous literary Latin-American tradition where, as one of the main characters says, the prints of Dante and other classics of different languages and continents are more alive than ever.


El complot de los románticos (Dante hits the road)
wins the Café Gijón Prize
"The jury wants to emphasize the daringness of the winning work gambit, its brilliant use of literary culture, as well as the way it shatters customary narrative molds. At the same time that it constructs a hilarious meta-literary game around the figure of the author, the novel also provides a critical subtext that critiques the literary Parnassus and contemporary (especially Mexican) society."
Excerpt from Jury announcement awarding Carmen Boullosas forthcoming El complot de los románticos [2009] the 2008 Café Gijón Prize.
On September 18, Carmen Boullosa was awarded the 2008 Café Gijón Prize, one of Spain most distinguished literary awards, for her forthcoming novel El complot de los románticos. The prize, given for not-yet-published novels, is one of Spain oldest. It was created in 1949, to compete with the Nadal Prize of Barcelona, by Fernando Fernán Gómez (the eramost famous film actor), along with the poet Gerardo Diego and author Enrique Jardiel Poncela, among others.
It was named in honor of the Café Gijón, Madrid historic literary café founded in 1888, where artists and writers long gathered to hold "tertulias" (conversational parties). The prize was originally administered by the Café Gijón itself, and paid out of Fernán Gómez´s pocket. Since 1989 it has been managed by the municipality of Gijón, in Asturias, Spain. Among former awardees are Ana María Matute (who also won the Nadal Prize, National Literature Prize, and CriticsPrize), Carmen Martín Gaite (who won the Nadal and the Prince of Asturias Prize), Leonardo Padura, and Eduardo Mendicutti, among many others.
For the 2008 contest, 596 manuscripts were submitted to the jury, roughly half from authors in Spain, the rest from novelists in 23 different countries. Carmen is the first Mexican ever to receive the prize.
The jury this year was headed by Rosa Regás (winner of the Nadal Prize, former director of the Casa de América, former director of the National Library of Spain), and included: Antonio Colinas (one of the Spain most eminent poets), Mercedes Monmanny (a leading literary critic), José María Guelbenzu (novelist and critic) and Marcos Giralt Torrente (winner of the Herralde Prize). The prize carries with it an award of 18,000 Euros.
For Alma Guillermoprieto, “Carmen Boullosa writes with a heart-stopping command of language”, El País “a cross between W. G. Sebald y Gabriel García Márquez”, and Roberto Bolaño wrote “the best Mexican woman author”, and “Si tuviera que escoger una cocina literaria para instalarme allí durante una semana, escogería la de una escritora… Viviría muy a gusto en la cocina de Silvina Ocampo, en la de Alejandra Pizarnik, en la de la novelista y poeta mexicana Carmen Boullosa, en la de Simone de Beauvoir.”


Carmen Boullosa (born in Mexico City in 1954) is one of Mexico leading novelists, poets and playwrights. The prolific author, who has had literally scores of books, essays and dissertations written about her work, has been lauded by critics on several continents. “Mexico’s best woman writer,” wrote Roberto Bolaño.
Half of her thirteen novels deal with historical themes - the world of Moctezuma, the early Colonial period in Mexico City, the life of pirates in the 17th Century Caribbean, the era of Cervantes, and the Renaissance - and some have been translated into Italian, Dutch, German, French, Portuguese, Chinese, and Russian. In Siruela she has published La otra mano de Lepanto (named by Reforma distinguished critic Sergio González Rodríguez as the Best Novel Published in Mexico in 2005.), El velázquez de París and La virgen y el violín.
Boullosa has also had a distinguished teaching career, and since 2004, she has been Distinguished Lecturer at City College, CUNY, in the Foreign Languages Department.


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