HAVANA – The Uruguayan novelist living in Cuba, Daniel Chavarria, was named winner of the 2010 National Literature Award, the island’s most prestigious literary honor, official media said.
Chavarria was chosen for the prize on Friday for “the dazzling imaginative and linguistic richness of his many works,” which have been “the key to a new look for detective novels set in Latin America.”
“I see myself as a very fulfilled author, but this prize makes me very happy,” said the writer, who has lived in Cuba since 1969.
Chavarria said that this year he has won two prizes that give him double satisfaction: Cuba’s National Literature Award and the Bartolome Hidalgo Prize awarded by the Uruguay Book Chamber, which, he said, have given him “a moment of real ecstasy and happiness.”
“I’m a Uruguayan citizen and will never stop being one, but at the same time I’m a Cuban writer, because as a novelist I started here writing about Cuba, the country, its exploits and its people,” he said.
The novelist said that he discovered that the Cuban Revolution has all the necessary characteristics on which to base literary works.
The jury picking the winner of the prize, which the Culture Ministry awards annually to writers who have enriched the island’s literary legacy, was made up of intellectuals Ambrosio Fornet, Enrique Sainz, Emilia Gallego, Leonardo Sarria and Arturo Arango, who judged the 14 nominated authors.
Chavarria is the author of the novels “El Ojo de Cibeles” (The Eye of Cybele), “Joy,” “El Rojo en la Pluma del Loro” (The Red on the Parrot’s Feather), “Adios Muchachos,” “Priapo,” “Una Pica en Flandes” (A Stake in Flanders), “Viudas de Sangre” (Widows of Blood), among others.
He has also written numerous literary and political articles, scripts for movies and television, as well as short stories and educational material.
In spite of that, he said that all that interests him are the political, historical and picaresque aspects of the adventures he writes about in his novels.
Born on Nov. 23, 1933, in the Uruguayan town of San Jose de Mayo, Chavarria has lived in Cuba since 1969, where he has been a novelist, scriptwriter, translator and professor of Latin and Greek at the University of Havana.
Chavarria has often said that he is a Uruguayan citizen and a Cuban author, because it was on the island where he wrote his first best-selling novel, “Joy.”
He has won a number of honors, such as the 1992 Dashiell Hammett Prize, the 1992/93 Planeta-Joaquin Mortiz International Prize for the Novel, the 2002 Edgar Allan Poe Award in New York, and in Cuba the 2000 Casa de las Americas Prize and the 2004 Alejo Carpentier Prize.
He also took the 2005 Camilo Jose Cela Prize in Palma de Mallorca, and the the Bartolome Hidalgo Prize awarded by the Uruguay Book Chamber.
The Cuban award will be presented to Chavarria at a ceremony planned for Feb. 11, 2011, as part of a program of activities at the upcoming 20th Havana International Book Fair.