• Culture The mystery of Carmen Mola, the faceless 'bestseller': "More than a mask, my pseudonym is a shield"

  • Opinion The Kings support the Planeta Prize with their presence

Night of

strong emotions at the Premio Planeta.

After the surprise that the prize money increased to one million euros, thus becoming the highest literary prize in the world (surpassing even the Nobel Prize for Literature), another bombshell: this year's Planet Prize goes to

Carmen Mola,

the best kept secret of Spanish letters

until tonight.

A secret that this Friday has finally been revealed: three men (and not a woman, as was thought) are behind the so-called "Spanish Elena Ferrante":

Agustín Martínez, Jorge Díaz and Antonio Mercero.

All three are screenwriters, they come from the world of television

and they are the six-handed creators of the very violent novels starring Inspector Elena Blanco

that have seduced tens of thousands of readers. This Friday they have won a millionaire Planet Prize that, yes, they will have to distribute: 333,333 euros for each one (half, by the way, of the 600,000 that were awarded until last year). But who are Agustín Martínez, Jorge Díaz and Antonio Mercero?

Antonio Santos Mercero is the son of the mythical filmmaker

Antonio Mercero

and one of the most experienced screenwriters on Spanish television: he started at Farmacia de Guardia after a few years dedicated to journalism and is one of the creators, together with Jorge Díaz, of Hospital Central. He has also worked in Lobos and MIR.

Agustín Martínez

has been the screenwriter of

Sin Tits No Paradise, The Girl from Yesterday, Crematorio, El don de Alba

and

Víctor Ros.

In 2015, he published his first novel,

Monteperdido

, which was adapted for television in 2018. That

is where the three coincided

. And

Jorge Díaz

is another TV veteran: he coordinated the scripts for

Hospital Central

for 12 years and has worked in El don de Alba, Ciega a appointments, Víctor Ros and Acacias 38. He did not begin to write until 2009, when he published The Elephant Numbers and his latest novel (signed with his real name) is I have in me all the dreams in the world, about the shipwreck of the Prince of Asturias ship in 1916.

Little was known about Carmen Mola.

The discretion of the three writers has managed to maintain the mystery for years.

It was said that she was a woman, from Madrid, mother of three children

(now we know that she actually has three parents) and that she was represented by the Hanska literary agency, whose team also includes Antonio Mercero Santos.

Compared with

Pierre Lemaitre and Alicia Giménez Bartlett,

Carmen Mola appeared as an unidentified object in the Spanish black criminal scene and in three years she published three novels: La novia gitana (2018), La red roja (2019) and La nena (2020) that captivated readers for their particular rawness and brutality. Total sales of the books, translated in eight countries, have reached 250,000 copies and the rights for a television broadcast have been bought by Atremedia, which belongs to Grupo Planeta. All three are carried out by Elena Blanco, an inspector from the Case Analysis Brigade and are not suitable for sensitive readers.

The winning novel, written in six hands, is titled

The Beast

and is set in Madrid in 1938,

with a background cholera epidemic.

It is a thriller that revolves around a wave of murders of girls from the poorest classes.

A journalist, a policeman and a girl team up to catch the serial killer, who dismembers the girls.

That the authors behind Carmen Mola have won the Planet is

a blow to the competition, the Penguin Random House group, where the Mola phenomenon has been born

and has sold more than 150,000 copies, becoming one of the great

bestsellers

of the group and of black literature homeland.

It is not the first time that

knives fly in the night of the Planet

between the two large publishing conglomerates: two years ago, in 2019, Planeta stole from its most direct competitor the two award winners,

Javier Cercas and Manuel Vilas,

who even then they published on Penguin. The dispute between the two groups is tough: between them they account for more than 67% of the Spanish market (in fiction for adults) and in recent years they have embarked on a process of buying small and medium-sized publishers that has resulted in a high concentration of the book business in Spain.

At the moment, on the Random House website,

Carmen Mola continues to appear as an author of the house

and the publication of her next novel, the fourth installment of the saga starring Elena Blanco, entitled

The Mothers

, is announced for the spring of 2022 .

The gala, held in the Oval Room of the National Art Museum of Catalonia with 600 guests, was a return to normality in many aspects: not only because of the celebration itself, but also because of the return of the Kings of Spain to the ceremony.

They had not been there since 2016, before the process, which led Grupo Planeta to move its headquarters and tax domicile from Barcelona to Madrid.

They were accompanied by the Minister of Culture

Miquel Iceta,

the Minister of Education

Pilar Alegría,

the Mayor of Barcelona

Ada Colau

and representing the Generalitat, the Minister of Culture

Núria Garriga.

The Kings Felipe and Letizia, upon arrival at the delivery ceremony.JOSEP LAGOAFP

The jury made up of

José Manuel Blecua, Fernando Delgado, Juan Eslava Galán, Pere Gimferrer, Carmen Posadas, Rosa Regàs and Belén López

also awarded the manuscript presented under the provisional title

Children of Wrath

of the writer

Paloma Sánchez-Garnica,

who was a finalist and will have the definitive title of

Last Days in Berlin.

It is a historical river-novel starring a young man who tries to reconnect with his mother and younger brother after being separated by the Leninist regime.

A book that transports the reader through the key European events of the 20th century (there is a stop in Nazi Germany) with "very clever subplots", according to Eslava Galán.

The finalist, Sánchez-Garnica (Madrid, 1962), has a degree in Law and Geography and History.

She is an author of de la casa, where she has been publishing for three decades: hers are titles such as

The Great Arcanum,

The East Breeze,

The Soul of the Stones and

The Three Wounds.

His consecration came with

La sonata del silencio

,

of which an adaptation was made for a series on TVE.

In 2016, he won the 2016

Fernando Lara Novel Prize

with

My memory is stronger than your forgetfulness

. His latest novel is entitled

La suspicion de Sofía.

According to the criteria of The Trust Project

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