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Siri Hustvedt, Princess of Asturias Award for Literature 2019

Only a couple in the world, the writers Siri Hustvedt and Paul Auster, can boast that their two members have deserved the Prize for Letters awarded each year by the Princess of Asturias Foundation. The writer of Norwegian origin was made this Wednesday with the award for her committed and feminist humanism embodied in a work translated into more than thirty languages ​​and that «Contributes to the dialogue between the humanities and the sciences». Hustvedt reaches the award at 64 years and thirteen after he fell to Paul Auster, whom he met in a reading of poems in 1981, her husband since 1982, and winner in 2006.

The candidature of Hustvedt had been proposed by Mauro Guillén and was imposed on 27 others from 17 countries. The jury pointed out in the ruling how his work is "one of the most ambitious of the current landscape of letters." "It affects some of the aspects that draw a convulsive and disconcerting present, from a feminist root perspective", highlighted the minutes. "And it does so from fiction and essay, as an intellectual concerned with the fundamental issues of contemporary ethics and epistemology," added the text read by the director of the Royal Spanish Academy (RAE) Santiago Muñoz Machado.

Endowed with 50,000 euros, a Joan Miró sculpture, a diploma and a badge that will be delivered to him in Oviedo in a solemn ceremony presided over by the Kings, the award recognizes "the work of cultivation and improvement of literary creation in all its genders". Hustvedt takes over from French Fred Vargas, awarded last year for her long series of crime novel.

Novelist, essayist and poet, expert in neuroscience and psychoanalysis, studious and intellectual, Siri Hustvedt (Northfield, Minnesota, USA 1955) is the daughter of a Norwegian mother and American father. She lived with her family in the Nordic city of Bergen during the academic year 1967/68, and, after a summer of intense reading in Iceland, decided to become a writer. This is what he tells in an autobiographical essay where he explains that since then he has not stopped reading, writing poetry and short stories. Advances of an extensive scientific and narrative work in which it addresses fundamental issues of ethics.


With a multifaceted profile, he graduated in History and received his doctorate in 1986 in English Literature from Columbia University. He did it with a thesis on Charles Dickens in which they already appear their authors of reference: Kierkegaard, Emile Benveniste, Roman Jakobson, Mikhail Bakhtin, Freud, Lacan, Mary Douglas, Ricoeur or Julia Kristeva, among others. Hustvedt published in 1992 his first and praised novel, 'The bandaged eyes', and with the third of his seven works of fiction, 'Everything that I loved' (2003), got international renown. But his first publication was a poem in 'The Paris Review', and in 1982 he published the poetry collection 'Reading to You'.

Since then he has chained essays and articles in academic and scientific journals, such as 'Contemporary Psychoanalysis', 'Seizure: European Journal of Epilepsy', 'Neuropsychoanalysis' and 'Clinical Neurophysiology'. His collection of 32 conferences and articles delivered and published between 2005 and 2011, 'Live, think, look' (2013), is for the jury "a sample of his extensive and profound learning in various disciplines". In these texts he develops some of his favorite themes, related to literature, philosophy, psychology, psychoanalysis and neurosciences.

She is also very interested in painting, has given talks on Goya at the Prado Museum and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and has published a volume of essays, 'The Mysteries of the rectangle' (2005). Other works of his are 'The spell of Lily Dahl' (1996), 'Elegy for an American' (2008), 'The trembling woman or the story of my nerves' (2010), 'Summer without men' (2011), 'A dazzling world' (2014), 'Leer para ti' (2007), 'En el lontananza' (1998) and 'A plea for Eros' (2005). Her latest titles are 'The woman who looks at men who look at women (2017) and' Memories of the future 'published three months ago.

His work "contributes to the dialogue between the humanities and the sciences", according to the jury.

Doctor honoris causa by the Stendhal University of Grenoble (2015), in 2004 she received the Quebec Booksellers' Award for 'Everything I loved' and in 2012 the Gabarron International Prize for Thought and Humanities for her research work and ideas on philosophy, neuroscience and psychology.

Muñoz Machado, president of the jury, stressed that Hustvedt writes "from very brave positions." He presented her as "a complete writer from all points of view and with a lot of experience" and underlined her knowledge of many scientific disciplines and "that mixes with humanism".

The director of the RAE presided over a jury composed of Xosé Ballesteros, Xuan Bello, Blanca Berasátegui, Jordi Gracia, Lola Larumbe, Antonio Lucas, Carmen Millán, Rosa Navarro, Leonardo Padura, Pablo Remón, Laura Revuelta, Ana Santos, Íker Seisdedos, Diana Sorensen, Juan Villoro and Fernando Rodríguez Lafuente who acted as secretary. The Princess of Asturias award "the scientific, technical, cultural, social and humanitarian work done by people, institutions, groups of people or institutions in the international arena."

The one of the Letters is the fifth of the eight that are granted this year, in which they fulfill their thirty-ninth edition. After those awarded to British playwright Peter Brook -Artes-, the National Museum of Prado -Communication and Humanities-, the American mathematician and engineer Salman Khan and the Khan Academy -Cooperation International- and the American skier Lindsey Vonn -Deportes-. In the next few weeks, those corresponding to Social Sciences, Scientific and Technical Research and Concordia will be decided.

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