Claudia Piñeiro (Buenos Aires, 61 years old) has won the Dashiell Hammett Award of the Black Week of Gijón with Cathedrals (Alfaguara). In one of the highest quality appointments in memory —the other finalists were Lorenzo Silva, Marta Sanz, Elia Barceló and Alberto Gil— the Argentine writer has unanimously obtained the award for a novel, “non-canonical” in the eyes of the jury that highlights “its great literary wealth” and the “deep knowledge of human reality” that it shows. The act also underlines the capacity of the novel to expose the hypocrisy of certain social sectors.
The crime novel knocks down the last frontiers
“It was difficult for me to come, but it will be more difficult for me to return,” joked the winner shortly after.
The unsolved death of her sister Ana 30 years ago conditions the life of Lía, an Argentine who lives in Santiago de Compostela and who has made her life out of her bookstore. When his sister was killed, he stopped believing in God, or recognized him, he left his family, less a father with whom he corresponded, but he never stopped looking for the murderer. This simple approach is the beginning of a plot that uses the different protagonist voices of the story to unfold an overwhelming panoply of themes. Because this is a novel about memory, forgetfulness, guilt, death, secrets, family or God and all those issues together need a great literary structure so that there is no pedantic, excessive or intellectual novel. Nothing is further from reality. With the trade that has given him a career with novels of the level of Yours O Thursday’s widows, Piñeiro digs into the souls of his characters and tells us about the crime or crimes that ended up with the young Ana in a field, burned and dismembered.
“One may think that it is an old story, but the dead with whom we do not know what happened are current,” said the Argentine writer. “It may be the story of many Argentines, many Latin Americans,” he added before asking that violence against women and their struggle of “so many years, of so many women around the world, be taken into account.