Javier Marías, one of Spain's most celebrated living authors, said on Thursday that he was turning down the 2012 National Literature Prize bestowed on him by the Ministry of Education, Culture and Sport for his novel Los enamoramientos.
The novelist and academic, who had been honored in the narrative category, had often said he would reject any government-backed award given to him. "I'm being coherent with what I have always said: that I would never receive an institutional prize," he said during a press conference at the Círculo de Bellas Artes in Madrid.
A harsh critic of the Popular Party administration of Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, Marías denied his decision to reject the 20,000-euro award had anything to do with the incumbent government. "If it had been the PSOE in power, I would have done the same," he said.
He noted he first decided not to accept institutional invitations back in 1995, saying the main reasons were that he did not want to be an author labeled as "favored by this or that government" or involved in political games.
Another reason for his decision relates to his late father, the philosopher Julián Marías. "Since they have been giving national prizes, there have been great authors who have deservedly received them, but I think in many aspects they left a lot to be desired. That my father, who lived to 95 years old and published piles of books, never received the essay prize, was never considered the best, was striking," he said.
"Neither did [writers] Juan Benet, Juan García Hortelano and Eduardo Mendoza receive any national prize, which for me is shocking. [...] I thought: perhaps it is better to be on the list of those who didn't."