It had been many years since a Planet Award It was not as surprising as the one that was delivered this Friday night at the Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya (MNAC). To begin with, there is the gigantic ordeal announced on Thursday that increased the endowment of an ambitious but frozen prize for up to one million euros during the last two decades. More than him Nobel Prize for Literature. But the news does not end there, which come one after another. Under the sheet signed with the pseudonym Sergio López, in turn, in a beautiful set of mirrors, the name of Carmen Mola was hidden. Something that requires explanation. Carmen Mola is a pseudonym that has always been said to hide a writer from Madrid. Under that name she has had great commercial successes such as ‘La novia gitana’, ‘La red purple’ and ‘La Nena’ in Alfaguara, the publishing house that discovered her. Like Elena Ferrante, but with a splendid display of gushing blood, “Not suitable for sensitive stomachs”, as it has been advertised, Mola has remained hidden to date. But a million euros is well worth a coming out of the incognito closet.
And so the surprises continue: Carmen Mola is not Carmen Mola – a suspicion that circulated in the mentideros for years. It is not about a woman. A man, therefore? Yes, but neither. Lo de Mola is rather the mystery of the Holy Trinity, because there have been novels written with four hands and quite good ones: this is the case of Boileau-Narcejac, authors of the novel that Alfred Hitchcock turned into ‘Vertigo’. But three authors, as is the case, is already somewhat more complicated. with the exception of that Italian group that was first Luther Blissett and later Wu Ming.
After Carmen Mola they meet three television scriptwriters: Antonio Mercero -son of the famous director of ‘The cabin’, ‘Blue summer’ and ‘Pharmacy on duty’-, Jorge Díaz and Agustín Martínez. Together they have collaborated in various series such as ‘Central Hospital’ and ‘Víctor Ros’. In addition, Mercero is a prolific author of crime novels who has signed titles such as ‘The fourth death’ (2012) and ‘La vida desatenta’ (2014) with his name. In 2017, the series starring the transsexual policewoman Sofía Luna began with ‘El final del hombre’, which was followed by ‘The case of the dead Japanese women’ (2018).
A reader of the black and police genre and influenced by great masters of the genre such as Fred Vargas, Lemaitre, Alicia Giménez Bartlett, Toni Hill, Víctor del Árbol or Lorenzo Silva, Carmen Mola is the pseudonym she uses to remain anonymous and thus be able to “follow living quietly “as she herself affirms in all her interviews, in which she also affirms that she is struck by the fact that everyone wants to know who she is.
A Madrid besieged by cholera
The winning novel, ‘The Beast’, promises as many jets of hemoglobin as the previous ones. Located in Madrid in 1834, besieged by cholera, a serial killer is dedicated to killing girls from the poorest classes. Those in charge of discovering the criminal are a journalist, a policeman and a girl.
In addition, the Planet will be accompanied by a ‘bonus track’, the adaptation of Carmen Mola’s first novel into a television series. ‘La novia gitana’ will be directed by Paco Cabezas, with years of experience in international series such as ‘Penny dreadful’ or ‘Fear the walking dead’. The novel was a bestseller – more than 150,000 copies sold and published in ten countries.
Another surprise, in line with what the recruitment of Javier Cercas and Manuel Vilas meant in 2019, is the transfer of the -until now- author from Alfaguara to the Planeta group and it has to do with that pulse that he has maintained in recent years with Penguin Random House. It must be said that the editor who discovered Carmen Mola, María Fasce, has always refused to reveal the identity of the ‘author’, not even in the last hours when the pseudonym sounded strongly like the winner. Elegance always. All in all, the stamp announces a new installment by researcher Elena Blanco for next spring. It will be necessary to see where it appears.
Return of the Kings
The finalist is the author of the Paloma Sánchez-Garnica house, who has won the Fernando Lara novel prize and has had an excellent reception -16 editions- with his latest novel, ‘Suspicion de Sofía’, a espionage story. ‘Last days in Berlin’, the finalist novel, is part of this genre through the story of a young man who does not give up the dream of being reunited with his mother and younger brother, whom he was forced to leave fleeing from the Soviet Union in the years of the Leninist regime.
So much emotion and so much sleeplessness have partly clouded another of the important aspects of the night. The politician. The presence of Kings, after five years of absence, and what seems more significant in times of Madrid-Barcelona dialogue, the ‘consellera’ of Culture, Natàlia Garriga, after the sounded absences of Àngels Ponsa, Mariàngela Vilallonga and Laura Borràs in the heat of the you process. Along with them, the Minister of Culture, the Catalan Miquel Iceta; the Minister of Education, Pilar Alegría, and the Mayor of Barcelona, Ada Colau.