Carmen Mola, a crime author in Spain, recently won the coveted Planeta prize. This literary award, which includes a million euros in cash, is presented to a Spanish author’s unpublished work to boost an author’s name and publicity before the book is officially published.
When Carmen Mola’s name was announced as the winner of this year’s Planeta, the world was shocked to learn that Carmen is actually the collective identity of three middle-aged men.
Augustin Martinez, Jorge Diaz, and Antonio Mercero were all published authors and accomplished screenwriters before creating Carman Mola’s identity. The men claim that they wanted anonymity to “protect a settled life that has nothing to do with literature.” However, when the prize was announced, they had no problem stepping into the public eye. Needless to say, the men winning a coveted literary prize under a female pseudonym have caused a stir in the literary world.
In an industry already dominated by men (or at least, dominated by what men think should be published), many people feel it is deceptive that these men wrote under a woman’s name. The Carmen Mola website even claimed that “she” was a middle-aged mother who worked as a professor. This duel-identity of being a sweet, working mother during the day and writing brutal crime novels at night was partly what attracted readers to her novels. The Spanish paper El Mundo called this “a great marketing operation.”
Women writing under a man’s name was traditionally used for them to break into the writing industry, so the practice of creating a pseudonym carries a kind of symbolism to it that celebrates women doing what they needed to do to succeed. Women’s voices still do not carry a weight that equals that of men, even in this day and age. And famed feminist activist Beatriz Gimeno went to Twitter to express her disappointment in these men as “scammers.”
While congratulations are in order to the men for writing a beautiful and creative novel, many cannot overlook the fact that writing as a different gender played to the men’s advantage. After all, they could have chosen a man’s name as a pseudonym.
In case you missed out on more recent literary prize news, you can read all about the Booker Prize 2021 shortlist here.
FEATURED IMAGE VIA FINANCIAL TIMES