Chloe Aridjis and Daniel Saldaña Paris have been named winners of the 2020 Eccles Centre & Hay Festival Writer’s Award.
Announced at an evening reception at the British Library tonight (Monday 25 November), the two winners were selected from a diverse, eight-strong shortlist of yet-to-be-published books set across North and South America, due for publication in both English and Spanish and comprising both fiction and non-fiction.
Both writers are awarded £20,000 and a year’s writing residency at the British Library to develop their novels. For the first time since the Award began in 2012, the winners will also receive a dedicated platform at Hay Festival events in the UK and Latin America.
Chloe Aridjis is a Mexican writer based in London and the author of three novels, Book of Clouds, Asunderand Sea Monsters, published earlier in 2019. She receives the Award for her forthcoming English-language novel Reports from the Land of the Bats, which will explore the complex encounters between artistic, anthropological and local interests and is set in Mexico’s southernmost state of Chiapas. Aridjis plans to map out her own Chiapanecan topography using material from the British Library’s Latin American collection, which is the largest in the UK. She will draw from a variety of sources including botanical manuals, political tracts, the dream chronicles of the Tzotzil Indians and early travelogues and accounts from the Conquest.
“It was thrilling to choose Chloe as a 2020 winner of the Writer's Award. Her fifth novel, Reports from the Land of the Bats, engages deeply not only with her own personal story but also with the stories threaded through Mexico's histories: indigenous, colonial, political. Aridjis's fascinating application showed her to be a writer truly coming into her own, and we were delighted to recognize her with this award.” Erica Wagner, Writer’s Award judge
Daniel Saldaña Paris is an essayist, poet, and novelist born in Mexico City whose work has been translated into several languages. He receives the Award for his proposed novel Principio de mediocridad, a storycomposed of four first person narrations, each an intense relationship with the history and geography of the city of Cuernavaca, Mexico. Saldaña Paris will use the British Library’s Latin American collection to research the cultural history of landscapes and artistic movements in Latin America.
“Daniel Saldaña Paris’ multi-voiced, multi-layered proposed novel set in the Mexican city of Cuenavaca has the ambition and originality we look for in our support of writers researching in the British Library collections. This first Spanish-language winner is the exciting beginning of a collaboration that forges links across nations and languages in a time when this is more urgent than ever.” Catherine Eccles, Writer’s Award judge
On the judging panel were Mercedes Aguirre, Lead Curator of American collections at the British Library; Catherine Eccles, director of international scouting agency Eccles Fisher Associates; Cristina Fuentes La Roche, International Director at Hay Festival; Philip Hatfield, Head of the Eccles Centre for American Studies at the British Library and Erica Wagner, writer and former Writer’s Award winner.
Submissions for 2021 will open next summer. For more information, visit www.bl.uk/writers-award.