Ghostess With the Mostest

A Spanish publishing hoax has yielded many red faces among that nation's literati — and, for its perpetrators, black ink. It's a business model Bob wishes he'd thought of.

The Spanish literary world was scandalized last week when female crime-thriller writer and feminist darling Carmen Mola was presented as winner of the rich Planeta Prize. Scandalized not because her fiction (in the nation whose own Cervantes had invented the modern novel) is so filled with sex and gore.

No, the anger came when the so-called “Elena Ferrante of Spain” came out of her self-imposed sequestration to accept the prize. Taking the stage  before the nation’s literati and publishing elites, and even eliter King Felipe VI, the acclaimed genre novelist turned out to be not a publicity-shy profesora, but three middle-aged dudes. Antonio, Jorge and Agustín — the Y-chromosome trifecta.

I mierda you not. The heralded author, who had found her way onto a Women’s Institute list of writers who “help us understand the reality and the experiences of women in different periods of history and contribute to raising awareness about rights and freedoms,” was a phantom front woman for a fiesta de las salchichas. Poor Mola thus found herself cruelly denied the $1.16 million prize on the flimsy technicality that she does not exist.

I shall leave it for you to decide whether this episode exposes the fragility of certain identity-politics orthodoxies, or simply reveals the shamelessness of the patriarchy — or, you know, both. What it absolutely demonstrates is this:

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