Juan Villoro, Journalistic Excellence of the Gabo Award 2022

MEXICO CITY (appro).- The Mexican writer Juan Villoro will receive the Recognition of Journalistic Excellence from the Gabo Award during the 10th Gabo Festival, which will take place in Bogotá from October 21 to 23 “for the brilliant and inspiring set of his work and trajectory” and a journalistic exercise “with exemplary rigor, ethics and talent”.

The Governing Council of the Gabo Prize, made up of prominent journalists, writers and academics, will award this recognition to Juan Villoro (Mexico City, 1956) “for the brilliant and inspiring set of his work and career” and the “own, deep and criticism that he projects in his journalistic exercise with rigor, ethics and exemplary talent”, as recorded in the minutes of his resolution.

According to the Governing Council, the award is an exaltation to a narrator “who captivates through the living word, who respects, knows and uses like few others” and to a “great speaker of the language who teaches to refine the language to count with beauty and efficiency” in genres ranging from columns and children’s stories, to plays and chronicles.

The Gabo Festival, organized by the Gabo Foundation, created in 1995 by Gabriel García Márquez himself, is the largest meeting dedicated to journalism, citizenship and culture in Ibero-America.

Villoro’s chronicles are great references of this hybrid genre between the novel, the report and the essay that the Mexican author himself called “the platypus of prose”. The honoree “is a man who, when he goes out into the street, is capable of turning any subject into an attractive one: in a wonderful chronicle, an acute social criticism, a necessary intervention in public conversation,” reads another section of the declaration.

The importance of being called Juan

In the profile “Juan Villoro, the map of his curiosity”, prepared by the Mexican novelist Julieta García González and that accompanies the official documentation of the award dated September 27, it is noted:

“When celebrating 40 years since the award of the Nobel Prize for Literature to Gabriel García Márquez, this Recognition of Excellence, granted by the Foundation that the Colombian created and today bears his name, is for an author who represents part of what García Márquez was. Márquez: a complete, splendid and versatile journalist and writer.”

According to Julieta García González, at the age of 15 her friend Villoro received a reading that would change his life outlook.

“The work was ‘De Perfil’, an initiatory novel that José Agustín published when he was 22 years old. Juan identified with the central character who lived through circumstances that seemed suspiciously similar to his own.”

“Thanks to that ‘mirror reading’ – he narrates in the ode to reading that are the essays of “The utility of desire” – I began to read for pleasure, but each itinerary is different”.

On impulse, he wrote a story; in yet another, the workshop of the Ecuadorian Miguel Donoso Pareja was launched at UNAM, which received university students but who accepted the tall boy who arrived with two stories and a couple of lies under his arm: “he pretended to be outdone, he invented something as well as a small trajectory”. And later:

“Then came a fortunate succession of events: he appeared anthologized by his tutor; Federico Campbell, an already well-known author, published a ‘plaquette’ for him, in his small, artisan and prestigious publishing house. Thus, he took the eleven stories he had written from 74 to 78 to Joaquín-Mortiz, directed by Joaquín Díez-Canedo, ‘the editor par excellence’, who published new voices in Mexico. The navigable night slept ‘the sleep of the just’ for a couple of years, according to Juan, until José Agustín himself —who had read his young fan— approached the editor to give him a push.

Quote back to Villoro himself:

“On October 24, 1980, it shook in the morning. A few hours later, Joaquín Díez-Canedo spoke to tell me: ‘As a result of the tremor, his book came out.’”

The author of “Vapor”, Julieta García González, continues:

“It is also remarkable that he maintains an intact curiosity over the years. It’s more or less like his appearance: Juan seems to have changed little once he reached 1.92 and grew a bushy beard; once he chose the jeans, the jacket, the shirt and the sweater as a uniform of seriousness and lightness…

“Naturally, it has changed. What remains and creates the illusion of being with a boy is a certain attitude, a way of facing life and literature with a mixture of depth and lightness. The deep and the popular coexist in it without any problem. He loves and enjoys soccer with the same intensity as the texts of little-known German authors these days; he rereads Juan Carlos Onetti with the relish he devotes to discussing and describing the many oddities of Mexico City; he knows about television series, movies, rock and the profile of politicians or zodiac signs. He is interested in young authors and has enough reading to place them in different traditions.

“The novelty moves him in part because it serves to link what he already knows and give new meanings to what he finds endearing. This ends up landing in novels, stories, essays, journalistic works, plays, chronicles, children’s books, opinion articles and some loose pieces, difficult to catalog.”

Juan Villoro will receive the Recognition of Excellence on Saturday, October 22 in Bogotá, Colombia, during the Gabo Award ceremony, within the framework of the 10th Gabo Festival. This will also be the space to honor the winners of the five award contest categories: Audio, Coverage, Photography, Image and Text.

A contributor to the magazine Proceso, Villoro thus joins a group of exemplary professionals who have received the Gabo Award for Excellence since its creation: Giannina Segnini (2013), Javier Darío Restrepo and Marcela Turati (2014), Dorrit Harazim ( 2015), the El Faro team (2016), Jorge Ramos (2017), Ignacio Escolar (2018), Jesús Abad Colorado (2019), Radio Cooperativa (2020) and Pedro X. Molina (2021).

The award will be made for the first time in Bogotá from October 21 to 23 for the 40th anniversary of the Nobel Prize awarded to Gabriel García Márquez. In its tenth edition, it is inspired by the speech “The Solitude of Latin America” ​​delivered in 1982 when he became the first and only Colombian to receive the Nobel Prize for Literature. Gabe said:

“Poets and beggars, musicians and prophets, warriors and scoundrels, all the creatures of that outrageous reality have had to ask very little of the imagination, because the greatest challenge for us has been the insufficiency of conventional resources to make our lives believable. This, my friends, the crux of our solitude”.

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Juan Villoro, Journalistic Excellence of the Gabo Award 2022