A million euro literary prize has made three Spanish men reveal their true identities. When one of their books ‘The Beast’ won the so-called Planeta Prize, the writer Carmen Mola did not come forward, but three men stepped on stage to receive the award.
The Guardian writes that. Under the pseudonym Carmen Mola, the men write several Spanish crime thrillers that are marketed as “Elena Ferrante of Spain.” Agustín Martínez, Jorge Díaz and Antonio Mercero had published novels and worked as screenwriters under their real names before coming together to write as Mola. They worked on the TV series “Central Hospital” and “Blind Date.”
The award-winning book is a historical thriller, set in 1834 during a cholera epidemic, and is about a serial killer who dismemberes girls, according to Spanish media. A journalist, a police officer and a young woman come together to try and hunt him down.
The men, all in their 40s and 50s, denied choosing a female pseudonym to help sell the books. “We didn‘t hide behind a woman, we hid behind a name,” Antonio Mercero told the Spanish newspaper El País. “I don’t know if a female pseudonym would sell more than a male, but I doubt it.”
Yet the men received some criticism about the choice of a female alias. Beatriz Gimeno, a feminist, writer, activist – and former head of one of Spain‘s national equality agencies, the Women’s Institute – attacked the men because in their publicity for Carmen Mola‘s books, for several years, they have a female personality created: “Apart from using a female alias, these men have been conducting interviews for years. It’s not just the name — it‘s the fake profile they’ve used to bring readers and journalists in. They‘re scammers,” she said on Twitter.
The Planeta Prize, presented by the publishing house of the same name, is both a search for potentially lucrative new books and a recognition of talent.
Only unpublished manuscripts can be submitted and the winning book must be published by Planeta. In the case of Mola’s new work, which will be released under that name, this means that they have to give up their current publisher, competitor Penguin Random House.