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Home Culture The Argentine Belarusian Natalia Litvinova wins the Lumen novel award | Culture

The Argentine Belarusian Natalia Litvinova wins the Lumen novel award | Culture

by News Room
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In a brand new auditorium of the Ortega Marañón Foundation, in the old premises of what was once the Residencia de Señoritas de Madrid, which María de Maeztu directed to promote university education for women, the ruling of the second edition of the Lumen Novel Prize. As the editorial director of the label, María Fasce, recalled, this award was originally created by the editor Esther Tusquets in the nineties, and has been recovered by the Penguin Random House group, of which Lumen is today a part, with the clear purpose to reward literature written by women. The prize is 30,000 euros and on this occasion the prize has gone to the poet Natalia Litvinova, who makes her debut with Firefly as a novelist.

Of Belarusian origin, Litvinova arrived in Argentina with her family in 1996, on the same day she turned 10. “I finished this book days before sending it to the contest, but I had had this story in my head for many years,” explained the author, connected from Buenos Aires by videoconference. The story of her family and her exile is the thread of Firefly, a book in which, as he explained, his mother played an important role and the notebooks she wrote at Litvinova’s request to tell her the vicissitudes and memories of everything she had experienced. “Although I worked with fragmentary texts, I did not want this book to become a collection of poems.” She achieved it and, according to the jury’s ruling, which Ángeles González-Sinde read, Firefly It contains “the difficult quality of simplicity,” and “passes from realism to the mythical naturally,” without giving up “humor and irony.”

The director of the Alberti bookstore in Madrid, Lola Larumbe, referred to the “electric current” that runs through the family history of a mother and daughter. Clara Obligado, who received the Lumen award in the nineties and who also knows exile, wanted to highlight the contradictions in Litvinova’s book, the fact that it is “luminous although it talks about dark themes and tender in its harshness,” a work in which she said that “poetry and story beat”. Luna Miguel seemed “super happy” and asked herself: “How is it possible that radioactive toxicity becomes magic?”, before González Sinde closed the jury’s turn to speak. The writer, former Minister of Culture and current president of the board of trustees of the Reina Sofía Museum highlighted that it is a long story that spans several generations and that the protagonist, faced with a strong life change, feels the need to harmonize past and present. “She has an attentive and perceptive language that never falls into the solemn, which makes each event have clarity and an immediate effect,” she highlighted.

Trauma, memory and resistance, Litvinova said when she spoke, were the keys she had touched on in her poetry and to which she has now returned “at a length that I had not tried.” The brutal tragedy of Chernobyl, about which her compatriot and Nobel laureate Svetlana Alexievich wrote a harrowing oral history, is in the glow of Firefly.

In this second edition of the Lumen award, 549 novels were submitted from Argentina, Colombia, Chile, Spain, United States, Mexico, Peru and Uruguay. In the first edition of the award in this new stage, in 2023, the Argentine Leticia Martin was the winner with the thriller Vladimir.

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