Sniper Cristina Peri Rossi wins the 2021 Cervantes Prize

It was speculated that this year the Cervantes Prize would go to a Latin American author and this has been the case, but rewarding the Uruguayan poet and storyteller Cristina Peri Rossi (79 years) is in a way to meet the two shores. Because after having lived in her city, Montevideo, for 30 years, the military dictatorship forced her, like so many of her fellow activists and activists, to go into exile in Europe. Since then, 1972, he has made Barcelona his city. In those years, the 1970s, a good part of the Latin American writers forced to move out of town made a stop, driven both by dictatorships and by the search for a better future. as could be the case of García Márquez or Roberto Bolaño. Peri Rossi becomes the sixth woman to be distinguished by Cervantes.

Although her name sounded like one of the favorites, this Wednesday the author, who had been warned by a friend of the possibility, had a greater concern than that of the award. Shortly before MIquel Iceta called her to announce the award, she was affected – a former smoker – by a bronchospasm that required the presence of an emergency doctor at her home. “It was shortly after the medication took effect and I began to breathe normally that I received the announcement. If a bronchospam has brought me Cervantes, I think I will need a good flu to be awarded the Nobel,” he jokes from his Barcelona flat from Numància street while phone calls follow one another without rest as in a chaotic carousel.

Great storyteller of his generation

Thus the trajectory of “one of the great literary vocations of our time” has been recognized in her, as well as the size of a writer capable of planing her talent in the plurality of genres “, alluding to her dedication to poetry, novel and especially the story, in which it has stood out as one of the great storytellers of her generation. “The literature of Peri Rossi is a constant exercise of exploration and criticism, without avoiding the value of the word as an expression of a commitment to key issues of contemporary conversation such as the condition of women and sexuality”.

The author is proud of an award that she claims to have won: “I have no plugs and I do not belong to any clique. In that I am a lone sailor and a sniper.” He also has a memory for his small South American country, which in 2018 also had another Cervantes award in the nonagenarian Ida Vitale. “I am happy for both Uruguay and Spain, because I have both countries in my heart and, with the exception of two seasons in Paris and Berlin, I have only lived in them.

Cortázar, the friend

The daughter of a family of Italian emigrants, Peri Rossi used to go to libraries because her finances were not there to buy books. At age 16, reading ‘The Second Sex’ by Simone de Beauvoir was for her a turning point in her feminist conception. She was a great friend of Julio Cortázar, who fell in love with her and dedicated the collection of poems ‘Five poems for Cris’ to her, but the relationship was not complete due to her different sexual options. It was the Argentine storyteller who hosted the writer for two years 1974-1975 in her Parisian apartment, after the Spanish Government, in collaboration with the Uruguayan government -which put her in search and capture- denied her passport.

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Among the most outstanding works of the author, influenced by also Uruguayans Juan Carlos Onetti and Felisberto Hernández, are the short story book ‘The abandoned museums’ (1968), which gave her instant recognition; the novel ‘La nave de los locos’ (1984), which includes an in-depth reflection on exile, as well as the collections of poems ‘States of Exile’ (2003), ‘Strategies of Desire’ (2004) and ‘Playstation’ (winner of the Loewe award). In 2020 he published ‘La insumisa’, a literary autobiography in which he narrates his childhood and adolescence.

The author denies that a prize like the Cervantes – endowed with 125,000 euros – means feeling loved. “In my city I have won the Ciutat de Barcelona but the truth is that in Catalonia I have not received special consideration. In any case, an award does not mean that they love you. They make you feel marked, yes. But the full feeling of love. .. that is caused by friends, animals and perhaps feeling satisfied with your work. And the truth is, I am satisfied with my work.

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