The book by Luis Mateo that survived “the scrapping”

The book by Luis Mateo that survived “the scrapping”
The book by Luis Mateo that survived “the scrapping”

The Leonese writer and Cervantes Prize 2023, Luis Mateo Díez (Villablino, León, 1942) presented this Thursday at the Cervantes Institute of Madrid the book ‘Voices from the mirror’ which brings together a series of stories, some of them unpublished, and which is part of the ‘Biblioteca Premios Cervantes’ collection, from the Fondo de Cultura Económica group, which publishes this volume together with the University of Alcalá de Henares.

This is a book composed of 16 stories which contain “very representative” characteristics of the Leonese’s work, such as “orality, humor, dreamlike and symbolism”, while dealing with common themes in his writing such as routine, discoveries, melancholy, cinemas or Celama, that literary kingdom created by him inspired by the landscapes of his memory.

In fact, the titles of each chapter are key words in his life and professional career. In ‘Voices of the Mirror’, as noted in the presentation, “the generic hybridity that predominates in its production” stands out, since throughout the volume you can find “essays interspersed by a story or vice versa, a short fiction that is complemented with a reflection. All of them, likewise, focus on the deep look at the human being with characters who are lost, quixotic or lost “in the labyrinth of life.”

«Because I am prolific in writing, I can allow things to get lost, like this book. It was written at the time, I don’t remember how or when, really, but it was already written like a closed book, even with a title. However, now upon meeting him again I see that it makes sense and that it is current,” remarked the current Cervantes Prize winner, who confessed, in this sense, that the book was very ready “to be scrapped,” since in recent years he has used some of the stories to publish them autonomously.

Regarding this peculiar origin of ‘Voices of the mirror’, the philologist and academic of the RAE, Ángeles Encinar, “who knows the most about Luis Mateo Díez, beyond Luis Mateo himself,” insisted that “it is a book that was already done.” “A couple of years ago he showed me this book and I was amazed because it is a very representative text of his work,” he emphasized.

In the presentation, which took place in a pleasant dialogue between Díez and Encinar, the 2023 Cervantes Prize winner gave some insights into his way of understanding writing and life. «The word is the fundamental thing in fiction. But then there is also that point of living the unlivable,” said Díez, who insisted on the idea that he already pointed out in his speech when collecting the most important award in Spanish Literature: “In life there is nothing more interesting than meeting people. The others are the most interesting that exist… Because what am I going to tell about my life, if there are only four bullshit. Furthermore, he emphasized that “reading novels or watching movies or art in general is the best food for life.”

«I am very fond of the child I was because he was a deceived child… And the protagonists of my books are always deceived, or deceivers as in my last novel, ‘The master of the track’», recalled Díez, whose legacy has been kept since November 15, 2023 in the Box of Letters of the Cervantes Institute, as has been the tradition since 2007 for all authors awarded the most prestigious award in Spanish Literature. In this case, the Leonese kept two workbooks in box 106 that are like the log of his literary navigation, some typewritten ones and an unpublished booklet.

«It is a special book. It is presented as an anthology of stories, of fragments of memory. It is not an anthology using stories, because the whole has a different tone that has to do with memory and literary intimacy that comes to light not only in fiction,” said the deputy director of Culture of the Cervantes Institute, Ernesto Pérez Zúñigawho excused the absence of the director of this institution, the poet Luis García Montero, for being in Argentina.

For his part, the director of the Economic Culture Fund, Manuel Lazcanoshowed his pride in being able to receive in his ‘Cervantes Awards Library’ this book on the “90th anniversary” of his publishing group. As he explained, through the pages of Voices of the Mirror you can discover “Luis Mateo Díez’s passion for oral literature and his tireless search for the exact word for each moment of the story; but at the same time you can see the taste for transgression, for play and for the imagination of children.

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