María Margarita Borrero, Carlos Ospina Marulanda and Javier Zamudio, the three winners of the La Cueva Short Story Award, in its ninth edition. (The Cave Foundation).
After several days of uncertainty among the finalists, the La Cueva Foundation, directed by Miguel Iriarte, finally made public the names of the winners of the XI La Cueva National Short Story Award, through its social networks, on the afternoon of January 23 .
Chosen by a luxury jury, made up of the writers Margarita García Robayo and Fernanda Trías, and the writer Alejandro Zambra, the three winners of this version, selected among the 25 names that remained as finalists, are María Margarita Borrero, Carlos Ospina Marulanda and Javier Zamudio.
Official poster of the winners of the XI La Cueva National Short Story Award. (The Cave Foundation).
The first place will receive the sum of $20,000,000 Colombian pesos; second place will win $3,000,000, and third place will win $2,000,000.
In the coming days, the winners will get their financial incentives and will pose together as the brand new winners of the prized literary contest.
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Among the 25 names announced as finalists were some known to Colombian readers, such as the writer Octavio Escobar Giraldo, author of novels such as “After and Before God”, “Mar de Leva” and “Every Dark Tomb”, among other titles. ; the journalist Mariana Toro Nader, now based in Spain, and the professor Danielle Navarro Bohórquez, who has recently been giving people something to talk about.
Official poster of the 25 finalists of the eleventh edition of the La Cueva National Short Story Award. (The Cave Foundation).
All of them will form part of the anthology resulting from this edition of the award. Last year, the top three spots were filled by female writers. Yulieth Mora Garzón from Bogotá, with her story “What made you turn off the light and stay inside”, took first place; second place went to “El contacto”, by Laura Bolaño Pérez, philosopher and journalist, and third place went to Argentine writer Lucía Vargas Caparroz, a resident of Colombia for several years, with a story entitled “The only thing What is there is this fire”.
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On this occasion, the foundation reported, 1,819 stories were received, 58% more compared to last year. 54% of the stories received were written by people between 18 and 40 years of age; 35% of the contestant writers are between 41 and 65 years old; 3.6% among 66 years or more and 3.5% among 17 years or less. 90% of the stories were sent from Colombia, and 10% were written from abroad, standing out the countries of the United States, Spain and Argentina.
The first place this year, which was occupied by María Margarita Borrero, with her text “Family Album”, gives an account of an author whose narrative voice, subtle and with a fine humor, has a force rarely seen in Colombian storytellers today. .
“With suggestive prose and a great capacity to sustain dramatic tension, [este cuento] bring back [a los lectores] to the days of analogue cameras, when we did not know exactly what would be recorded when pressing the shutter”, reviews Claudia Lama. “This story reveals to us little by little,” she continues, “the image of a middle-class family in urban Colombia in the last decades of the 20th century.”
Official poster. María Margarita Borrero Blanco, winner of first place in the XI La Cueva National Short Story Award. (The Cave Foundation).
The pages that make up this story will remain spinning in the head of more than one reader, because, undoubtedly, the feat achieved by its author is impossible to deny. There is no room for discussion as to why she has gotten the top spot.
“Dad is holding the Yashika Minister in his right hand, and with his left he motions for Mom to move even closer to the edge of the pool. More? Yes. Reluctantly, with me in her arms, she takes a small step and smiles. We’re both dressed to the nines because we’re going to church for my baptism. Tilt it toward the sun, toward where I am, he points out, but when my mother moves me, I feel a slap of light on her face, and I wake up and open my mouth to cry. In my first photo, in black and white, the pacifier goes up in the air, Mom losing her balance trying to catch it and me clenching my fists and scrunching up my face as we both fall into the water. That image receives a name in our family: Baptized. Around that pool I crawl, walk and run after my brother José, who has learned to do everything before me, including swimming. He puts on his painted penguin float, goes down to the second tiled staircase, and splashes from there. In one of the images he appears floating in the deepest part, holding on to his father’s hairy arm with both hands, who that year wears glasses for his nearsightedness and grows sideburns and a mustache, like Charles Bronson” – (Fragment).
The second place, occupied by the editor Carlos Ospina Marulanda, presents readers with a story with curious characteristics. Why? The way in which it is narrated, as if wanting to invite the reader to ask questions together with the protagonist, reveals an author whose concern is not so much in the story but in the way it is told.
“What he feels the most is cold. Bogotá is cold these days. Every time Juan spends a few days dedicated to his things, in the rural businesses that he now claims to have, Olga thinks of asking him for her trick to light the fireplace. She might as well ask her dad for advice, she tells herself as she puts on another jacket. And she shivered. The guy is still there, standing at the window he tapped with two fingers on almost a minute ago. His patience is not that of a thief. The man is wearing a hat and raincoat and that is enough to open the door for him with confidence. Olga indicates with her index finger that she is going to meet him at the door. Later there will be time to think about that overconfidence, about the naivety of letting your guard down just because the potential thief is dressed as an office worker. Excuse me, I didn’t mean to scare you. He did, she says. Well, I didn’t want to scare her but I did need to wake her up – (Excerpt).
The main character of this story is Olga, an insurance saleswoman who narrates, almost as if they were frames, some scenes from her life. She knows that the bad things that happen on the road, the accidents, are one more possibility.
“Earning a living”, as the story is titled, is an invitation to revisit those questions that, perhaps, will always remain unanswered. “It is a call to remember and to reconcile ourselves”, Claudia Lama has said, once and for all, with the tragic events of our past”.
Official poster: Carlos Ospina Marulanda, winner of second place in the XI La Cueva National Short Story Award. (The Cave Foundation).
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In third place was the writer Javier Zamudio, of whom there are no doubts about his great narrative capacity. His story “Today we eat meat” once again confirms his talent and the expertise that he has developed, over the years, to deal with the genre.
Manuel, the character in this story, is about to kill Trostski, the family dog. His wife objects: she believes that Manuel has lost his mind or is too drunk to know what he is doing. The man gives him his reasons, reviews fellow writer Fabián Buelvas, the dog is very old, they are too poor and they have not eaten meat for a long time. The woman tries to persuade him, since Carlos, her son, would not forgive them for such an act.
“I look at the bananas that Manuel put next to the fire, on a stone. The shell is black and open, and it has a sweet smell that mixes with that of roast meat, which is dry and intense. There is a cloud of smoke over the patio of the house that stretches towards the neighboring houses. I prick the meat with a fork and put it on a tray. I cut it into generous portions, I can’t stand it and I put a piece in my mouth. “Not bad,” I think. My mouth fills with saliva” – (Fragment).
This story is presented as an excuse to remember that sometimes, says Buelvas, the need can become stronger than love.
Official poster. Javier Zamudio, third place winner of the XI La Cueva National Short Story Award. (The Cave Foundation).
The La Cueva National Short Story Award is an initiative of the La Cueva Foundation, created in 2011 by Heriberto Fiorillo, who until this year had been the director of the entity, which seeks to strengthen the presence of the short story, one of the oldest genres and exciting aspects of literature, in the panorama of contemporary letters.
The literary contest has established itself as an essential event for Colombian writers, regardless of their age or background, as well as for foreigners residing in the country and for Colombians living abroad.
Characters such as Gabriel García Márquez, Álvaro Cepeda Samudio, José Félix Fuenmayor, Ramón Vinyes and Alfonso Fuenmayor, prominent members of the Barranquilla Group, were great readers and short story writers from the beginning of their literary career until their mature years. The award, inspired by the Group’s legacy and its literary contribution, has seen the birth of more than 12,000 stories from 30 Colombian departments and countries such as Argentina, Ecuador, Mexico, Spain, Germany, Venezuela, Uruguay, Canada, and the United States.
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