SANTO DOMINGO – The awarding of a prize to a book written by the granddaughter of the late dictator Rafael Trujillo has sparked controversy in Dominican cultural and political circles.
“A la sombra de mi abuelo” (In the shadow of my grandfather), by Aida Trujillo Ricart, last week was selected to receive the Manuel de Jesus Galvan Novel Prize as one of the literature and music awards that the Culture Ministry bestows each year.
The awards will be presented at the end of June in Santo Domingo at a ceremony at which Trujillo Ricart, who lives in Spain, is scheduled to attend, Cultural Ministry officials told Efe on Tuesday.
Historian Franklin Franco said Tuesday that the book in question “dishonors” the ministry’s annual awards since, he believes, “it lacks the necessary literary quality to receive that award.”
Franco said in a communique from the Memorial Museum of the Dominican Resistance to the 1930-1962 Trujillo regime that the members of the judging panel who selected the work “either did not read it or (received some benefit)” for doing so from Colombian publishing house Norma, which sponsored the book.
Culture Minister Jose Rafael Lantigua expressed his dissatisfaction with the selection of the work, but he asked for “understanding” from the critics arguing that it was picked by a judging panel that acted “absolutely freely.”
“A la sombra de mi abuelo,” a kind of novelized autobiography, “offends the memory of those who gave their lives with the aim of freeing out country from the Trujillo dictatorship, which turned the Dominican Republic into a huge plantation for the dictator and his family,” Lantigua said.
One member of the jury, award-winning Dominican writer Roberto Marcalle Abreu, defended the choice and said that the selection came after two months of extensive discussions.
While the book “has its deficiencies,” he told Efe, the style “moves along fluidly.”
“A novel is the sum of all literary genres. It’s a novel, it’s a short story, it’s a history and it’s the human condition,” he said. EFE