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Inés Martín Rodrigo and Toni Cruanyes prevail at the Nadal and Pla awards

The writer and journalist Joan Didion claimed that we tell ourselves stories to survive. And that therapeutic power of literature is the nexus and the raison d'être of the works with which the journalists Inés Martín Rodrigo and Toni Cruanyes have obtained the 78th Nadal Prize and the 54th Pla Prize, respectively, in the course of an act this Thursday in Barcelona that has stayed, for the second time in the history of the award that Ediciones Destino calls, without its traditional gala dinner due to the pandemic. Family memory from grandparents is the substrate on which the editor of the newspaper Abc specialized in books Martín Rodrigo builds her novel The forms of wanting, revived from the emotional crisis of its protagonist, Noray. The death of his grandfather in a residence during the first wave of the covid pandemic was the trigger for the presenter of the TV-3 nightly newscast to write La vall de la llum , which in The reality could be the fictionalized memories of your family, stitched together by your experiences.

“It is a quilt made with pieces of my memory, family memories that I have fictionalized to the extreme; history continues to be a tribute to the elderly, who are the root of our life; memory is vital for literature and existence ”, explains Martín Rodrigo to better understand the figure of Noray, the protagonist of the novel with which he has obtained the 18,000 euros of the historic award. After the loss of her grandmother Carmen, the young woman will enter an emotional crisis that will make her hit rock bottom, from which she will only begin to emerge when she faces the family history, which runs from the Spanish Civil War to almost nowadays.

“Grief does not heal, it is a way of living”, believes the author, who also understands that digging into the memory, in whose well he has partially drunk from the memories of his mother who died when he was 14 years old and of his grandmother, does not it is only a stylistic resource but a vital attitude: “To know where we must go in these turbulent times we must inexorably go to yesterday and analyze it.” Deep down, that idea and that intimacy were already latent in the only novel that he had ever written, Azules son las horas (2016), in that case a historical fiction based on the review of the life of what was the first Spanish war correspondent in 1915, Sofía Casanova. Since then, Martín had stitched his work on the culture pages of Abc and of its cultural supplement (always about the world of books), with some story in the anthology The notebook cannibal (2017), some literary essay in another collective work ( David Foster Wallace, the genius who did not know how to have fun ) and, more recently, A room shared (2020), compilation of interviews with writers such as Margaret Atwood, Svetlana Alexiévich and Ida Vitale, among others.

Died by covid in a residence

The bibliography of Cruanyes (Canet de Mar, Barcelona, ​​47 years old) is more extensive, but until now it had been limited to essays as a result of his remarkable journalistic career, which has included his work as a reporter for the BBC in London and on the radio. of the United Nations in New York, a career that since 2004 has been developed in the Televisió de Catalunya, of which he has been a correspondent in Paris. From there books have emerged such as El llarg adéu de Pinochet (2004), a chronicle of the retention of the Chilean dictator in England; From Tony Blair to Zapatero: an autopsy of the European esquerra (2010) and An antidot against the extreme dreta (2012), which earned him the Joan Fuster essay award.

“It is a memorialistic narrative, everything I tell is real, but I almost had a novel,” admits Cruanyes when defining his winning work (6,000 euros), where he reviews the childhood and entire life of his grandfather, who died in a residence during the very harsh first wave of the covid in 2020. “It is a fresco of personal episodes, but also social and political, which in some way are also the history of Catalonia,” he says. But the ultimate reason for being is to understand “memory as a source of comfort, the book is almost a shared therapy in which I have realized that the first and great puzzle of life is the family; the rest that we live are pieces that complement it. ”

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It is the same thread with which he weaves his need to write Martín Rodrigo, which he has in Didion, whom he has quoted, one of his main authors: “I have always believed in the therapeutic and restorative power of literature; what is not named does not exist and this helps in these dark times ”, assures a writer who, subject aside, meets another of the requirements of Nadal's contemporary times: her previous work was published by Espasa, also from Grupo Planeta. The share of Cruanyes corresponds to his media side: since 2001 he has been the face of Telenotícies Vespre , the nightly news program of TV-3. In any case, today they have been united by a common thought: believing that “the mirror of literature never lies”, as the Nadal winner has formulated.

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