Historical novel with a good, reliable (and extensive) real substrate and protagonism for a strong and uncomplicated woman in these times of growing empowerment of a group that reads more than men in Spain. Not even the most sophisticated literary laboratory would have found the best formula for a best seller. And those two ingredients are, precisely, the axes of Yo, Julia, work with which the cease of the Roman novel in Spanish, Santiago Posteguillo, recreating the life of the Roman Empress Julia Domna, won yesterday in Barcelona the 67th edition of the Planet Award, with its 601,000 euros.
A dark violet sea, a story about three generations of women and debut as a novelist for the multifaceted actress and journalist Ayanta Barilli, daughter of the writer Fernando Sánchez Dragó, was finalist (150,250 euros). The gala of the award held on Monday night in Barcelona was attended by the Minister of Culture, José Guirao, and the mayor of the city, Ada Colau, but no representative of the Generalitat of Catalonia.
Intelligent, ambitious, a libertine point and lover of philosophy, Julia Domna (170-217) was a true character and it is attributed that her husband Septimus Severus decided to take up arms to finish off his political rivals and reach the throne of emperor. She accompanied him in battles in the same way that he studied philosophy with the sophists. A complex character and surrounded by intrigues and mysteries so that the author of the successful trilogies such as Scipio (which his editors say has had a million readers) or that of Trajan made her the protagonist of his novel. The title is a nod to the mythical and popular Me, Claudio, by Robert Graves, although Julia de Posteguillo is not the famous wife of Augusto, protagonist in the book of the English novelist.
"I think my female characters have been gaining in importance; if before it has not been like this it is because of my historical sources, which are all men, "says Posteguillo (Valencia, 1967), fascinated by classical Rome from a trip he made with six years to the Italian capital. It was a vital shake that did not translate into literature until much later.
He began to write poetry and then black novel, but he would end up being a professor of English Literature in the XIX at the Jaume I University of Castellón (he still works there) did not publish until he was 39 years old. The hypothetical delay in his debut was quickly compensated: his Africanus (2006) It was the beginning of a trilogy about General Scipio the African, winner of Hannibal, who completed The cursed legions Y The betrayal of Rome, turned into one of the most successful of the Spanish historical novel.
The use of techniques and narrative registers more typical of the police genre, as well as an exciting rhythm in which sieges, gladiators and conspiracies of all kinds are mixed, despite being histories not exempt of great rigor – "I try to be more and more; I'm afraid to distort history, "he defends," they explain a success that led him from the Punic wars to a second trilogy, with the emperor Trajan as axis, which they formed The assassins of the emperor, Maximum circus Y The lost legion.
"Rome is the best example of the struggle for power in any empire and that is permanently topical," says who, among half a dozen recognitions, won the Barcino prize four years ago, awarded by the City of Barcelona. Perhaps the result of his profession, Posteguillo has three books (The night that Frankenstein read Don Quixote; The blood of the books Y The seventh circle of hell) destined to reveal curious aspects of literature, narrated with the same verve.
The narrative tempo that Barilli (Rome, 1969) uses in A dark violet sea It is more leisurely, as required by the intimate research conducted by the protagonist, who dives into her grandmother's past to explain how a ruthless man turned three women of the same family into madness. It is the literary premiere of a multi-faceted artist: film and theater actress, to date she only had two books: one of a collection of letters arrived at a radio program that she conducted and Blood pact (2013), which he did in four hands with his father, on the relationships between parents and children.
The Planet to Santiago Posteguillo ratifies the recent policy of the award, which seems to find the winner among the best sellers of the group's own labels, as Javier Sierra demonstrated last year or Dolores Redondo in 2016. The strategy reinforces the spectacular figures of an award that since 1952 it has sold 43 million copies. The formula is will export now to Italy, where the group will create an award in 2019 through De Agostini. But from single 150,000 euros for the winner.