As tradition dictates, after the visit of Their Majesties the Three Wise Men, the night of January 6th is the night of the Nadal Prize, the longest-running award in Spanish literature that this 2024 has celebrated 80 years at the Palace Hotel, the former Ritz. from Barcelona. The Pucelano writer César Pérez Gellida (1974) has won the Nadal Prize with ‘Under dry land’, a rural ‘thriller’ with Tarantinesque airs set in Extremadura at the beginning of the 20th century. Jaume Clotet has won the Josep Pla Prize with ‘La Germandat de l’Àngel Caigut’, another ‘thriller’, this one current, with historical touches, in which a monk from Montserrat and a mossa They find themselves caught in a plot that dates back to the Templars and will shake the foundations of the Catholic Church.

‘Under dry land’, presented for the award with the false title of ‘Black Orchids’, stars an enigmatic and seductive widow who marked the destiny of everyone who crossed paths with her and who disappears after her farm burns down. She then begins an investigation into one of the largest estates in the region that will uncover secrets from the past.

Pérez Gellida described the novel as “black, very black” and with a “political background” that explores how hostility conditions people. “It is Extremadura, 1917, in difficult times, a lot of poverty, large estates, caciquismo and a lot of hunger” when a lieutenant of the Civil Guard has to investigate a fire and the disappearance of the foreman.

The jury has been formed in this edition by the writers Inés Martín Rodrigo, Care Santos, Andrés Trapiello, Lorenzo Silva and the editor of Destino, Emili Rosales.

With Pérez Gellida, Nadal once again awards a crime novel, a genre that continues to gain readers in Spain and that in recent years has made a notable place for itself in the list of literary awards.

On occasion, Pérez Gellida has confessed that he started writing to combat insomnia. He did it in 2010 and since then he hasn’t stopped: he has published 13 novels in a decade, all (until now) on Suma de Letras, one of the imprints of the Penguin Random House group, Grupo Planeta’s main rival, which returns to ‘sign’ in the competition. Destino, Pérez Gellida’s new publishing house, will publish ‘Under dry land’ and ‘La Germandat de l’Àngel Caigut’ on February 7. The two awards increased their endowment last year (as did the Planet), up to the 30,000 euros for Nadal and the 10,000 for Pla.

The author of Memento mori

Pérez Gellida is responsible for Blackallolid, the Valladolid black literature festival. His thoroughness and rigor when constructing characters, crimes and plots led him to receive the Medal of Honor from the Spanish Society of Criminology and Forensic Sciences in 2014. At the end of October, Amazon Prime Video premiered the adaptation of his debut, ‘Memento mori’, the first part of the successful trilogy ‘Verses, songs and pieces of meat’, which has a sophisticated poetry-loving psychopath as the protagonist.

The series, starring Juan Echanove and Yon González, follows the adventures of a sociopath who remembers the legendary Patrick Bateman from ‘American Psycho’ and It is set in Valladolid, with the cold waters of the Pisuerga in the background. He has also written historical crime novels, such as ‘All the best’, his first foray into the spy genre, which was set in the Berlin of the former GDR, in the middle of the Cold War, and whose protagonists were KGB agents.

A monk from Montserrat and a mossa, protagonists of the Premi Pla

The Premi Pla has been won by the journalist and historian Jaume Clotet for ‘La Germandat de l’Àngel Caigut’, a current thriller with historical elements that mixes religion and intrigue. The protagonists are a monk from Montserrat and a mossa d’esquadra who face a plot that threatens to expose “the biggest secret of the Catholic Church.” The novel begins in the city of Acre, in the Holy Land, the city of the Templars and the last great fortress of the Crusaders in the Mediterranean Levant in the year 1291, the year in which it was conquered by Sultan al-Ashraf Khalil in a bloody two-month siege that left it completely devastated.

“This work is a journey from ancient Jerusalem in the 13th century to Barcelona in the 21st century,” explained Clotet, who said he was very excited about the award and made a plea in favor of reading. “I guess today I have become writer”, he confessed. “Yesterday I was reading stories to my daughters, we have done it every day for ten years. Spoken and read stories. It is a habit that I remember as a child with my mother, when she let me read what she wanted, whether it was comics or books by Folch i Torres. Writing is very important, but reading is even more important. Teaching new generations to do it is the best thing we can do,” he said after collecting the award.

Clotet has combined journalism, historical novels and politics throughout his career. Between 2003 and 2008 he was press chief of the Government department of the Generalitat and between 2008 and 2010 he was deputy director of the Catalan News Agency (ACN). He was also Director of Communication of the Generalitat between January 2016 and June 2021 and, as key figure of the process(he was investigated for participating in the preparations of the unilateral referendum 1-O) is likely to benefit from the amnesty. He is co-author, with the former president of the Generalitat Quim Torra, of ‘The best works of Catalan literature (comentades pel censor)’. In 2016 he won the Nèstor Luján Prize for historical novels with a book about Cathars, ‘Liures o morts’, which sold more than 20,000 copies.