Spanish Novelist Javier Marias Refuses Spain's National Narrative Award, 20,000 Euro Prize

Posted on November 3, 2012

Spanish novelist Javier Marias has turned down the National Narrative Prize, which is awarded by the Spanish government each year. The prize carries a cash award of 20,000 Euros.

Marias was given the award for his novel, The Infatuations. Marias is not opposed to literary prizes at all -- in fact, there is buzz that he will someday win a Nobel Prize for Literature. But he does oppose government funded literary prizes, which he says are used for political gain.

Marias explains, "All my life I have managed to avoid state institutions, regardless of which party was in government, and I have turned down all income from the public purse. I don't want to be seen as an author who is favoured by any particular government."

Another Spaniard, artist Santiago Sierra, turned down Spain's national arts prize for similar reasons. Sierra said he refused to take prize money from a government which gave money to banks while cutting spending on social programs (it was a socialist government).

The Telegraph reports that there is a growing trend of refusing literary awards to make political statements. American poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti recently turned down the prestigious Janus Pannonius International Poetry Prize because it was partially funded by the Hungarian government. The poet turned down a cash prize of 50,000 Euros citing human rights abuses in Hungary.

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