Romanian writer Mircea Cărtărescu, 2022 FIL Prize for Literature

The Romanian writer Mircea Cărtărescu won the 2022 FIL Prize for Literature this Monday, one of the main international literary awards, which the Guadalajara Book Fair awards to authors in Romance languages. The jury has decided to recognize Cărtărescu’s work for what it has cataloged as “an overflowing prose that combines fantastic and realistic elements, specular fictions that investigate the construction of identity”. Cărtărescu said this morning, through a video call, that receiving the prize, endowed with 150,000 dollars, “is a great honor and a privilege” and has expressed his admiration for Latin American literature and the work of Mexican writers Carlos Fuentes and Juan Rulfo, whom he has called “the Mexican Kafka”.

Cărtărescu (Bucharest, 1956) is a poet, narrator, essayist and literary critic. Although his work is little known among the great Latin American public, it has achieved surprising success in Spain, where it has become a sales phenomenon. The Romanian writer was awarded the 2018 Formentor Prize in that country for his work as a whole, aimed at promoting “the radical transformation of human consciousness”, according to the jury of that award. Cărtărescu is considered by critics to be the most important Romanian writer today, he has won the most important literary awards in his country and is a strong candidate to win the Nobel Prize for Literature. Among his works, the trilogy stands out. Blinding (1996, 2002, 2007), which has consecrated him internationally and has been cataloged by international critics as his masterpiece. The trilogy is made up of the titles The left wing, The body Y The right wing. It also highlights the collection of stories Nostalgia (1993), his poetry book The uprising (1990) and the novel Lulu (1994). In an interview with this newspaper, the author stated that “the fundamental part of my writing is my diary, which I consider my masterpiece. That’s where the other books start. My diary also has a nocturnal side, in the sense that every morning I have always written down everything I remember from my dreams”.

Cărtărescu has dedicated a good part of his speech this Monday to reaffirming the importance of his dreams in his literary production, since in 1973, at the age of 17, he began to write them in his personal diary. Since then, every morning, when he wakes up, he collects in that notebook the dream of the previous night, what he has called “an oneiric life that is extremely important.” The author has said that the passion for dreams came from his mother, an uneducated woman who in her youth was a peasant, but as a child she told him and her sister what she dreamed of. “Dreams are an important part of my life. I learned the art of dreaming from my mother, who is 93 years old, and she is a wonderful dreamer, with extraordinary dreams.” “Dreams are not something mystical”, he has added, “but something real and the basis for my short stories and novels”.

Mircea Cărtărescu in a portrait.Daniel Mordzinsky

The writer has also referred to the importance of poetry in literature, especially in difficult times after the covid-19 pandemic and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Cărtărescu has said that “poetry is there to help people in times of sadness”. For the author, poetry “helps human beings to survive moments of crisis, giving them a drop of beauty. We need poetry because it puts us in touch with empathy, courage and humanity in these difficult times.” Although Cărtărescu has stated that his work is not directly influenced by political or social circumstances in his country (such as the fall of the communist dictatorship of Nicolae Ceaușescu in 1989), he has claimed the right to write freely and without making any concessions. . “I write what I think is true and authentic,” he explained. “For me, writing is an inner process, my body is a great hand at the service of ideas that come to me, it is an instrument,” said the Romanian, who has also said that his works are written by hand “without thinking about how many copies I have sold or how much money I will earn. On the contrary, sitting down to write is a joy and a pleasure and that is the main reward”.

The announcement of the FIL Prize for Literature was made this Monday morning in Guadalajara, home of the most important book fair in Latin America, in a ceremony attended by local authorities, the FIL management, and academics and journalists. Raúl Padilla, president of the FIL Prize, has reported that in this edition of the award they received 67 nominations from authors from 18 countries and three continents, who were nominated by cultural institutions, publishers, academic organizations and a jury made up of seven writers and literary critics : Lorena Amaro Castro, from Chile; Marco Belpoliti, from Italy; Javier Guerrero, from Venezuela; Maria Eunice Moreira, from Brazil; Oana Sabo, from Romania; Antonio Sáez Delgado, from Spain, and Laura Scarabelli, from Italy. The jury has highlighted in its ruling that the Romanian author “is a multifaceted writer of a maximalist style who is fully inserted in the tradition of world literature, questioning his readers around the world from the dreamlike and existential”.

Romanian poet Mircea Cartarescu participates virtually in a press conference in Guadalajara.
Romanian poet Mircea Cartarescu participates virtually in a press conference in Guadalajara.
Francisco Guasco (EFE)

Cărtărescu will receive the award in November, during the opening of the fair that is organized every year in Guadalajara and is one of the largest narrative gatherings in Latin America. The capital of the Mexican state of Jalisco, was named the World Book Capital by UNESCO and local authorities have confirmed that during this year 1,300 activities will be carried out around the book, whose peak moment will be the FIL. Novelist Martín Solares, in charge of programming these literary gatherings, stated that “FIL is the bonfire, Guadalajara, World Book Capital, aims to be the spark that keeps literature alive for the rest of the year.”

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Romanian writer Mircea Cărtărescu, 2022 FIL Prize for Literature