Photo: Jorge Franco
Colombian writer Jorge Franco was presented in Madrid Friday with the Alfaguara Novel Prize for “El Mundo de Afuera,” which is loosely based on a kidnapping that rocked Medellin - the Andean nation’s second city - in 1971.
The award, which comes with $175,000, is considered among the most prestigious literary honors in the Spanish-speaking world.
In an emotional and poetic acceptance speech, Franco invoked Lewis Carroll’s “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” to illustrate how “the fascinating world of fiction” sometimes works.
He said he wrote the prize-winning novel “out of love” for his native Medellin and for Colombia, the country that also arouses in him “so much anger.”
The ceremony was held in Cecilio Rodgriguez Garden at Madrid’s Retiro Park, attended by numerous writers and publishers including Colombia’s Laura Restrepo, president of the jury, for whom Franco’s book moves “between fantasy and truculence, between the Coen brothers and the Brothers Grimm.”
Now published by Alfaguara in all Spanish-speaking countries, “El Mundo de Afuera” is based on a kidnapping the shook Medellin in 1971 and was the turning point toward violence that would later invade the city as a result of drug trafficking.”
In real life, Franco’s family lived close to that of Diego Echavarria, the kidnapped patron, who lived in an ersatz French chateau and who “traveled about in a limousine, the only one in the city. He had a pageboy as a servant and lived anachronically,” the writer said this week in an interview with Efe.