May 16, 2021

Guillermo Martínez wins with "Los Crímenes de Alicia"

Guillermo Martínez wins with "Los Crímenes de Alicia"


The Argentine Guillermo Martinez has won the title of Spanish letters with the second installment of "The Crimes of Oxford", his best known work, and now melts the mystery with the world of Lewis Carroll. For his part, Marc Artigau has won the Josep Pla Prize with the work "La vigilia" on the commission of an intriguing biography.

In 2004 a book surprised readers by their mix of police intrigue and mathematics. It was titled "The Oxford Crimes," although on its first outing to bookstores in Argentina, it took the name "Imperceptible Crimes," in addition to winning the Planeta Argentina Award. The novel was the card of presentation of two singular personages, the professor Arthur Seldom and the young student Martin, who tried to solve a series of murders occurred within the mythical University of Oxford. Now, twenty years later, the second part of that adventure, written by the Argentine Guillermo Martinez, is the winner of the Nadal Prize on its 75th anniversary.

«The crimes of Alice» recovers the same character to return to Oxford, this time in 1994, with a new chain of murders that seem to be inspired by one of the most celebrated works of children's literature of all time: "Alice in Wonderland" by Lewis Carroll. It is precisely the members of the brotherhood that bear the name of the British author who are being victims of these murders. Seldom is also a member of the Brotherhood of Lewis Carroll and will try to solve, together with Martin, what is happening on the campus of the legendary university.

The jury of the Nadal, which on this occasion was formed by Alicia Giménez Bartlett, Care Santos, Lorenzo Silva, Andrés Trapiello and Emili Rosales, has applauded the ability to build an intrigue in which mystery is mixed with the book, in the tradition by Jorge Luis Borges and Umberto Eco.

«Crimes of Alicia» was imposed among the 343 works that were presented to the prize that calls Ediciones Destino and failed yesterday at the traditional literary evening held at the Palace Hotel in Barcelona, ​​a meeting point for writers, editors and authorities at the beginning of the year.

The Argentine writer Guillermo Martínez has an interesting career as a novelist and essayist, making literature the vehicle with which to disseminate scientific and literary themes. The greatest exponent of all this is, precisely, "The Oxford Crimes", a work that was translated into some fifteen languages ​​around the world, apart from remaining for half a year on the list of best sellers in Argentina. The novel even co-produced a successful film adaptation, filmed by Alex de la Iglesia, and with Elijah Wood, Leonor Watling and John Hurt as its main protagonists.

Martinez has never hidden his fascination with numbers, something he shares with Charles Dodgson, best known for his famous pseudonym Lewis Carroll. The author of "Alice in Wonderland" and "Alice Through the Looking Glass" made many logical games with mathematics as the axis. Some of this can be seen in a text that Guillermo Martínez wrote as a prologue, although not published, of "Logic without pain" by Carroll. From this book, the winner of the Nadal wrote in a long text that "is an excellent document on the state of logic at that time and still today a slow and amusing introduction to the detective games of the linked propositions. Carroll uses diagrams of his invention with rectangular cells that he had exercised in his classes and -without success- with his little friends. One of them, Irene Barnes, who spent a week with him at a spa, later wrote: "His great delight was to show me his Logic Game. Will I dare to say that this made the evening quite long when the band was playing outside and the moon was shining on the sea? " Another topic that the Argentine author picked up in that prologue was that of the controversy that has always accompanied Carroll regarding his relationships with girls, especially with Alice Liddell, the little girl who inspired the famous Alice.

An author to whom Guillermo Martínez has devoted special attention is Jorge Luis Borges, as his essay "Borges y las matemáticas" proves. In that text we were pointed out how several of the ideas that appear in modern mathematics were already announced in the work of the author of "El Aleph". All this was shown by Martínez with a didactic eagerness, a common denominator of some of his most recognized texts.

And recognition has not been lacking. To the Nadal Prize and to the aforementioned Planeta Argentina Prize, Guillermo Martínez has added the First Prize of the National Endowment of the Arts 1989 for the title for which Literally debuted "Big Hell", the Mandarache -also for "The Oxford Crimes" -, Spanish-American short story Gabriel García Márquez for his book «Una felicidad repulsiva».

Since we are talking about a novel of intrigue, of a mystery within many mysteries, in this year's Nadal there is one that at the time of closing these pages we have not been able to clarify. Among the finalists to the award in this edition was a work entitled "Monkeys", presented by an author who hid behind the pseudonym of Ariel Crombet. Interestingly, yesterday ten years ago someone with the same pseudonym was a finalist. Would it be the same author? Mystery.

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