The writer and academic José María Merino Sánchez has been awarded the 2021 National Prize for Spanish Letters for “his mastery and excellence in the creation of fantastic literature in the narrative modalities of novels, short novels, short stories and short stories”.
This has been indicated by the jury that has awarded this Thursday this award granted by the Ministry of Culture and Sports and that, endowed with 40,000 euros, recognizes the set of literary work, in any of the Spanish languages, of a Spanish author or author Spanish, whose work is considered an integral part of current Spanish literature as a whole.
The jury also highlighted “the intelligence of his theoretical reflections on fiction” and stressed that José María Merino “is a benchmark for successive generations”.
Merino was born in A Coruña in 1941, although he is identified with León, since he lived there for a long period of his life, until he moved to Madrid. He collaborated with Unesco in educational projects for Latin America and was director of the Center for Spanish Letters of the Ministry of Culture. He is a patron of the Alexander Pushkin Foundation and honorary patron of the Spanish Language Foundation, ambassador of Hans Christian Andersen (Ministry of Culture of Denmark) and was honorary president of the ‘Leer León’ Children’s and Youth Book Foundation.
Member of the Royal Academy since 2008, where he has received the news while working, he is also a corresponding academic of the Panamanian Academy of the Language and the North American Academy of the Spanish Language.
In 2014 he was named Doctor “Honoris causa” by the University of León and in 2015 he received the Medal of Honor from the Association of Spanish Graduates and Doctors in the United States (ALDEEU).
He began in literature in Claraboya, a group that publishes the magazine with the same name in León. His first published books were the collection of poems ‘Sitio de Tarifa’ (1972) and ‘Birthdays away from home’ (1973).
A few years later, in 1976, he became known with ‘Novela de Andrés Choz’, for which he won the Novelas y Cuentos Award. Since then he has been alternating the publication of novels with that of short story books, poetry and literature for young people and deserving awards such as the Critics’ Award in 1985 for his novel ‘The dark shore’.
He also won the National Prize for Children’s and Young People’s Literature in 1993 for ‘No soy un libro’ and the Miguel Delibes for narrative for ‘Las visiones de Lucrecia’ (1996).
They were later joined by Ramón Gómez de la Serna de Narrativa in 2004 for ‘El hedero’; the Torrente Ballester Award for ‘El lugar sin culpa’ or the Castilla y León Critics Award for ‘El río del Edén’ (2012) which also won the National Narrative Award.
In his role as a columnist, he created, together with Juan Pedro Aparicio and Luis Mateo Díez, the figure of Sabino Ordás, a pseudonym under which he wrote a multitude of articles in the literary supplement ‘Pueblo’, directed by Dámaso Santos.
In addition to his work as a writer, he has lectured at numerous European and American educational centers, universities, and libraries. He has also given workshops on literary creation at the Menéndez Pelayo International University (UIMP).