Peruvian writer Gustavo Rodríguez wins the XXVI Alfaguara Prize for the novel for “Cien cuyes”


Peruvian writer Gustavo Rodríguez was awarded the Alfaguara Prize for Novel 2023, endowed with $175,000 (approximately €162,000) and a sculpture by Martín Chirino, for the work one hundred guinea pigspresented under the title Long Journey to Goodbye and under the pseudonym Cien guinea pigs.

The jury, chaired by the Argentine writer Claudia Piñeiro and composed of the Spanish journalist and writer Javier Rodríguez Marcos, the Argentine editor and translator Carolina Orloff, the Letras Corsarias bookseller, in Salamanca, Rafael Arias García, the Spanish writer Juan Tallón, and the editorial director of Alfaguara, Pilar Reyes (with a voice but without a vote), declared the novel the winner by majority vote. The novel will go on sale in bookstores on March 23.

The jury highlighted that One Hundred Guinea Pigs “is a tragicomic novel, set in the city of Lima today, which reflects one of the great conflicts of our time: we are societies that live longer and more hostile to the elderly. Paradox that Gustavo Rodríguez faces with skill and humour. A moving book whose protagonists care for, are cared for and defend dignity until its ultimate consequences”.

one hundred guinea pigs

In a residential area of ​​Lima overlooking the sea, some well-to-do old men languish. Frasia, pressed by her economic needs, having to raise her son Nico, has gradually become an essential company for some of them. If he could raise ten guinea pigs, the money to buy ten guinea pigs, he could, as his uncle always told him, start a new life. Thus, every day he crosses the city by public transport to assist Doña Bertha, who, in addition to her domestic help, needs further support because she has been depressed lately and has almost no more contact with her daughter than her. Frasia is very good, and her good work is so famous that in a short time she starts working, in the same building, for Jack Morrison, a retired doctor and widower, passionate about jazz and whiskey and immersed in a solitude that oppresses her soul of her. Shortly after, she too will do so in the neighborhood residence, where a group of residents has formed a family that calls itself “the magnificent seven”.

However, despite Frasia’s care, for all these characters the days continue to fall heavily into a routine of drugs, bland meals at set times, TV movies, ailments and occasional chats, in which we often remember the end of supplies. Frasia knows this, and she also knows that her close relationship and the trust she has managed to establish with them will eventually lead her to a crossroads.

In the one hundred guinea pigs Loneliness and dating go hand in hand, class differences and the ability to empathize beyond them, uncertainty about the future and old age, the end of the family and addiction. And above all, it designs the essential human need to find meaning in life.

In this announcement, 706 manuscripts were received, of which 296 sent from Spain, 112 from Argentina, 99 from Mexico, 81 from Colombia, 43 from the United States, 28 from Chile, 27 from Peru and 20 from Uruguay.

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