My friend Betina won some days ago a writing contest for her novel “Las Poseidas” (The Possessed) organized by a well-known Spanish editorial (Tusquets). It was the first time a woman wins that contest. Besides the money award, she gets her book published by an outstanding editorial, with the possibility of getting it translated into other languages. So basically and for some time now she has won an award every time she has submitted a novel or short story to a contest. It is good to know that literature of that quality is still praised, and in this case it is even better because it is a great life story: She had no contacts in the literary world, she did not care to put energy into networking, and by nothing else but the sheer force of her extraordinary talent she has won award after award. I also know how hard she has worked to perfect that natural talent, even when it was obvious from the start that she was simply outstanding.
What amazes me about her writing (besides the fact that her sentences are like small poems) is how layered her stories are: She usually writes a seemingly straightforward plot, but underneath that story she can be playing with literary genres, theorizing about how lies build up relationships, how memories distort our perception of people and ourselves, etc. Even if you miss that “underworld” you will still enjoy the main story, as she is first and foremost a narrator, but there is so much more waiting to be discovered. It is like finding a beautiful sculpture and thinking it is marvelous, until one day you realize it belonged to a huge temple. It is mind-blowing
This new prize was not well deserved, but rather inevitable.
un punto vidi che raggiava lume
acuto sì, che ‘l viso ch’elli affoca
chiuder conviensi per lo forte acume;
(Dante Alighieri, Divina Commedia, Paradiso, Canto XXVIII)