Wednesday, January 15, 2020

University of Iowa professor Ana Merino won the Premio Nadal, one of the oldest and most prestigious awards in Spanish literature, for her first novel, El mapa de los afectos.  

The Premio Nadal is one of the most distinguished awards in the Spanish literary world, awarded annually by the publishing house Ediciones Destino. The prize comes with €18,000 (about $20,000) and maintains an impressive list of previous winners, including authors such as Carmen Laforet, Rafael Sánchez Ferlosio, Carmen Martín Gaite, Ana María Matute and Miguel Delibes.

In the jury's opinion, El mapa de los afectos is "una literatura entroncada en la tradición feminista de escritoras como Lucia Berlin y Siri Hustvedt o con la literatura confesional del David Trueba de Saber perder."

["A literature rooted in the feminist tradition of writers such as Lucia Berlin and Siri Hustvedt or with the confessional literature of David Trueba of Knowing how to lose."]

It is an intimate account of the intersecting lives of several inhabitants of a small American town. The prize announcement describes El mapa de los afectos as a woven map of personal stories: "Teje así la escritora una historia coral, una especie de mapa o mosaico que, a través de dos décadas, nos muestra todos los afectos y emociones, todas las maneras de sentir de las que es capaz el ser humano, persiguiendo el del azar y las historias escondidas en amores, pérdidas, traiciones, odios, sucesos extraños, tensiones familiares, crímenes y todos los avatares que conforman la condición humana. Por último, tras toda esta exploración, la escritora ofrece una moraleja presentando a este pueblo, reflejo del mundo, como un lugar donde sólo gracias a la bondad es posible seguir viviendo."

["The writer weaves a choral story, a kind of map or mosaic that, through two decades, shows us all the affections and emotions, all the ways of feeling that a human being is capable of feeling, chasing chance and stories hidden in love, loss, betrayal, hate, strange events, family tensions, crimes and all the avatars that make up the human condition. Finally, after all this exploration, the writer offers a moral presentation of this town, a reflection of the world, as a place where only through kindness is it possible to continue living."]

Ana Merino is a Professor of Spanish and Portuguese and 2016 Collegiate Scholar in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. In 2009, Merino left her position at Dartmouth College to create the Spanish MFA program at the UI, and served as its director from March 2011 until December 2018. Between 2001 and 2011, she was a member of the International Comic Arts Forum Executive Committee; and between 2004 and 2014 served as a Directors Board member at The Center for Cartoon Studies.

She has published nine books of poems: Preparativos para un viaje (winner of the Adonais Prize in 1994), Los días gemelos (1997), La voz de los relojes (2000), Juegos de niños (winner of the Fray Luis de León Prize in 2003/translated into English and published by Harbor Mountain Press in 2012), Compañera de celda (2006) (translated into English and published by Harbor Mountain Press in 2007), Hagamos caso al tigre (2010), Curación (Accésit Jaime Gil de Biedma Prize, 2010), El viaje del vikingo soñador (2015) and Los buenos propósitos (2015). She is also the author of a youth novel: El hombre de los dos corazones (2009), a children album: Martina y los piojos(2017) and four plays: Amor muy frágil (2013), staged and travelled to several theaters in Switzerland on 2012 and 2013, and Las decepciones (2014), La redención (2016) staged last year at theater B at UI and Salvemos al elefante (2017). A selection of her poetry was translated into German by teamart Verlag Zurich in 2009.

Her poems have appeared in more than 30 anthologies, some translated into Portuguese, Slovenian, French, Dutch, Bulgarian, or Italian. Merino also has written fiction, and extensive criticism on comics and graphic novels. She has two academic books El cómic hispánico (2003) and Diez ensayos para pensar el comic (2017), and a monograph on Chris Ware (2006). Merino has won the Diario de Avisos prize for her short articles on comics for the literary magazine Leer. She has collaborated with opinion articles for El País and won an Accésit of the Carmen de Burgos Award for one of her journalistic pieces. She curated four comic book expositions. She was invited as visiting Professor to the University of San Gallen (fall 2012) and to The University of Zurich (Spring 2019).

In the summer of 2010, Merino created The Spanish Creative Literacy Project (SCLP) as an outreach project through the Spanish MFA and the undergraduate Spanish Creative Writing initiative at the Department of Spanish and Portuguese.

The SCLP helps members of the Hispanic community to appreciate the multiple literacy dimension of their linguistic heritage. The SCLP develops workshops in Spanish Creative Writing with children and teens with help of current students of the University of Iowa. The SCLP develops creative and didactic tools to help Hispanic students to motivate their creativity through reading and writing in Spanish. These creative workshops and all activities are open also to non-Hispanic children and teens of the community with an interest on Spanish creative writing. The SCLP establish links with the Hispanic community between other communities and share a common appreciation for the Hispanic Literary and creative tradition. These workshops reinforce the creative self-stem of children, teens and adults of the Hispanic community and open a creative dialogue among young members of different communities and other organizations that needs our support and expertise. At the same time SCLP trains UI students on the field of creative service to the community with a Hispanic component.