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Argentine author Patricio Pron wins Alfaguara Prize for latest novel

Argentine writer's book on modern relationships and 'love in the time of Tinder' sees off competition from 767 novelists for the annual literary honour.

Thursday 24 January, 2019
Patricio Pron wins the 2019 Alfaguara Prize
Patricio Pron wins the 2019 Alfaguara Prize Foto:Página Dos

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Topping off to an impressive week for Argentine culture, local writer Patricio Pron was yesterday awarded the prestigious Alfaguara Prize this week for his novel Mañana tendremos otros nombres.

A jury in Madrid selected his book, which centres on modern relationships, from a list of 767 novels nominated for the literary award, one of the most prestigious in the Spanish language.

The prize, which comes with US$175,000 prize, has been awarded to one work of fiction each year since 1998.

Pron’s book tells the story of two people in their 40s, who have no names apart from “his” and “hers.” The 43-year-old writer said the concept for his book arose from "the confluence of several practices, trends and genres."

The writer found his inspiration in "experiences of friends of mine," who had returned to the dating market in adulthood after having been in long relationships. He said they found "the ways in which they established contact with their partners... had completely changed."

While riding the subway one day, the writer said he was shocked to watch people "discarding or choosing people on Tinder," a reference to the popular dating app that’s "controlled by an algorithm that we know nothing about.”

In comments given to the AFP news agency, Pron observed that modern love is determined by things like "technological devices, economic dynamics, social institutions. The concept of love is changing in a way that it probably hasn’t in decades."

Capitalism and terror -

Juan José Millás, a Spanish writer and journalist, served as president of the wins Alfaguara Prize jury. He described Pron's book as a “horror novel" in which the word "terror" never appears.

Both of the book's protagonists work in prestigious fields, the man an essayist and the woman an architect. But still, both lead characters hold "precarious and poorly paid" jobs like many people in modern cities, Millás said, implying it was easy for readers to relate to them.

As a backdrop to the leading love story, Millás describes a society devoted to capitalism. He said the characters’ customs have been "replaced by consumption habits.

"The husband does not love his wife, he consumes her (...) if they have children, it is for him to consume them too," Millás explained.

Pron has previously lived in Argentina and Germany (where he earned a doctorate in Romance philology) and currently resides in Spain.

He is the author of six books of stories and seven novels, including El comienzo de la primavera (2008) and El espíritu de mis padres sigue subiendo en la lluvia (2011).

Other Argentine writers who were previously honoured as winners of the Alfaguara Prize include Eduardo Sacheri, Leopoldo Brizuela, Graciela Montes and Ema Wolf and Tomás Eloy Martínez.

-TIMES/AFP

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