Awards for women and Catalans

There have been six consecutive editions in which the Tusquets Prize has awarded a writer (.

Oliver Thansan
Oliver Thansan
20 November 2023 Monday 04:10
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Awards for women and Catalans

There have been six consecutive editions in which the Tusquets Prize has awarded a writer (...) Around 700 manuscripts are submitted to the call each year. As far as those of us who know about it know, at least 70% of the submitted texts will be written by men. Thus, around 500 of these 700 have already lost the prize before their manuscript arrives in Barcelona. [ But] there are no complaints from male writers (...). There are also no complaints about the National Awards' insistence on awarding women."

The article by Alberto Olmos from which I take these sentences ("Girls, ¿no estáis hartas de vosotras mismas?", El Confidencial 30/X/2023) is so... cynical? undocumented? written with the obvious purpose of provoking?... that I hesitated to rebut it. Because, besides, doing so has no merit. It is enough to search for "Tusquets Novel Award" on Google and count your fingers to see that of the 17 people who have won it since it was founded, 7 are women; in other words, yes, it has been 6 consecutive years that it has gone to women writers, but the fact 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 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 present themselves for the award are men. How do you know? And I've been researching it for 23 years – my book Literatura y mujeres is from 2000 – and I've never gotten this data! Sir, tell Albertito to leave me his glass ball... Although I don't know if he is very reliable, because this is also where he has seen, let's say, "the insistence of the National Awards on awarding women", when Google tells us that, in the last ten years, the National Narrative Award has gone to 5 female and 5 male writers, and in the previous decade, it was won by 10 men and 0 women... It is understood that male writers, as Olmos says , don't complain.

But they do complain. This is done, for example, by Germán Gullón (“Premios Nacionales: de cuotas y polemicas”) and Luis Antonio de Villena (“The forest and the tree”) in El Cultural on 16/X/2023. They protest that so much is awarded to women... and works written in "peripheral languages" (Nationals can and are given to novels, poetry books, 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 "they deepen the abyss of identity differences" (Gullón).

Even if they don't say it like that, both are raising an important philosophical issue: the "situated knowledge" that Donna Haraway talks about. What a pity that they dismiss it with such a superficial - implicit - answer, which consists of taking it for granted that a woman or a Catalan is rewarded for "quota", for "promoting identity differences", while a man or a Writers in Spanish do not have an identity, nor do they enjoy a comfortable quota that until four days ago was 100%.

It is surprising, by the way, that, without going too far, Alberto Olmos states in his article that Marguerite Duras "is the absolute pinnacle of literature written by men or women". Germán Gullón also stresses, in his article, that he greatly appreciates Emilia Pardo Bazán or Virginia Woolf, and Luis Antonio de Villena proclaims that "feminism has a lot of reason to be". Although the palm is taken by Luis García Montero, poet and director of the Cervantes Institute, when, responding to Anna Caballé in the controversy about Alberti and María Asunción Mateo, he tells her what she should do "for the sake of feminism" (Manipulated feminism", El País, 24/X/2023).

Surprised, did I say? Well, I'd be surprised if we weren't so used to the fact that men who put women down care enough to single out some of them (to make it seem like they look down on others for any reason other than masculinity), and take the opportunity to teach us lessons of "true" feminism. Same as Rubiales.