Awards for women and Catalans

There have been six consecutive editions in which the Tusquets prize awards a writer (…) About 700 manuscripts participate in the call each year.

Oliver Thansan
Oliver Thansan
20 November 2023 Monday 03:24
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Awards for women and Catalans

There have been six consecutive editions in which the Tusquets prize awards a writer (…) About 700 manuscripts participate in the call each year. Of them, as far as those of us who know about this know, at least 70% will be manuscripts by men. Thus, some 500 of those 700 have already lost the prize before their manuscript reaches Barcelona. [But] there are no complaints from male writers (…). There are also no complaints about the insistence of the National awards on rewarding women.”

The article by Alberto Olmos from which I get these phrases ("Girls, aren't you fed up with yourselves?", El Confidencial 30/X/2023) is so... cynical? undocumented? Written with the obvious purpose of provoking?... that I have hesitated to refute it. Because, furthermore, doing so has no merit. Just search for “Tusquets Novel Award” on Google and count on your fingers to see that of the 17 people who have won it since it was founded, 7 are women; I mean, yes, it has been going to women writers for 6 consecutive years, but the thing is that, of the 11 previous calls, 10 had been won by men...

Alberto, man, try a little harder, don't make it so easy for us. By the way, where was your accounting and justice zeal when all the candidates had already lost – applying your reasoning – before all their manuscripts reached the publisher?

Then you go and inform us that 70% of the authors who are nominated for the award are men. How do you know? And I have been researching for 23 years – my book Literature and Women is from 2000 – and I have never obtained that data! Sir, tell Albertito to lend me his crystal ball... Although I don't know if it's very reliable, because that's also where he has seen, we assume, "the insistence of the National Awards on rewarding women," when Google tells us that, in In the last ten years, the National Narrative Award has gone to 5 male and female writers, and in the previous decade, 10 men and 0 women won it... It is understandable that male writers, as Olmos says, do not complain.

But they do complain. This is done, for example, by Germán Gullón ("National Awards: quotas and controversies") and Luis Antonio de Villena ("The forest and the tree") in El Cultural on 16/X/2023. They protest that so many awards are given to women... and to works written in “peripheral languages” (the National Awards can and are given to novels, collections of poems, etc., in any of the Spanish languages). His argument is that this “has a political background, much more than a literary one” (Villena) and that “it deepens the abyss of identity differences” (Gullón). Although they don't call it that, both are raising an important philosophical issue: the “situated knowledge” that Donna Haraway talks about. What a pity that they send it off with such a superficial – implicit – response, which consists of assuming that a woman or a Catalan is rewarded by “quota”, to “promote identity differences”, while a man or a/ Writers in Spanish have no identity, nor do they enjoy a comfortable quota that until four days ago was 100%.

It is surprising, by the way, that, without being very relevant, Alberto Olmos states in his article that Marguerite Duras “is the absolute pinnacle of literature written by men or women.” Germán Gullón also emphasizes, in his article, how much he appreciates Emilia Pardo Bazán or Virginia Woolf, and Villena proclaims that “feminism has a very good reason for being.” Although the prize goes to Luis García Montero, poet and director of the Cervantes Institute, when, answering Anna Caballé in the controversy about Alberti and María Asunción Mateo, he tells her what she should do “for the good of feminism” (“Manipulated Feminism ”, El País, 24/X/2023).

Surprising, I said? Well, it would be surprising if we weren't so used to men who put women down being careful to exclude some (so that it seems like they despise the others for some reason other than machismo), and taking the opportunity to give us lessons in “true ” feminism. Just like Rubiales.