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Colombian reporter Juan Miguel Álvarez. Photo: VÍCTOR GALEANO / ANAGRAMA

Colombian reporter Juan Miguel Álvarez wins the Anagrama Chronicle Award

The winning work is 'La guerra que perdimos' ('The War We Lost'), an unpublished book that gathers several chronicles on the armed conflict in Colombia.

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Colombian reporter Juan Miguel Alvarez was recently declared the winner of the third ever Anagrama Chronicle Prize, an annual award organized by the Anagrama publishing house and the Universidad Autonoma de Nuevo Leon, Mexico. He won with La guerra que perdimos (The War We Lost), a collection of chronicles on the armed conflict in Colombia and the victims it has left behind.

According to the jurors of the contest (composed of writers Juan Villoro, Leila Guerriero, Martín Caparrós and Felipe Restrepo Pombo; editor Silvia Sesé and the secretary of extension and culture of the Universidad Autónoma de Nuevo León, Celso José Garza Acuña): "This is not a book about the war. It is not even a book about those who participated in it. It would have to be, rather, the intimate story of a reporter who stumbles upon vestiges at every crossroads, with splinters and scars, like someone who picks up broken pieces in every distant place of the national geography to try to put together something that looks like an explanation."

The author asks what happened to the Colombians and about the traces that have been left in them by all the violence they have endured. Perhaps it is premature to offer answers, but there are the traces — the traces of a holocaust where the limits, the sides, and motivations are blurred.

"A powerful and detailed work about the wounds left in Colombia by a conflict of so many years, which strives to talk about what has happened after the signing of the peace process with the FARC guerrillas," said Felipe Restrepo Pombo, member of the jury.

A freelance reporter on culture and human rights issues, Alvarez writes for various print and online magazines and is the editor of Baudó Agencia Pública. He is the author of Verde tierra calcinada, a book that was distinguished as one of the three best of Colombian narrative in 2018. Verde tierra calcinada is a book of chronicles that brings together the voices of what has been called the post-conflict in Colombia, and that Álvarez collected in a long tour of the country. 

He also wrote another nonfiction work entitled Balas por encargo (2013) and the anthology Lugar de tránsito (2021). In addition to having received distinctions from the guild in his country, he has been included in the final selection of the Gabo Award on two occasions (2015 and 2017), and in the True Story Award, in 2019. 

The prize is 10,000 euros (approximately $11,018). The book will be available in bookstores next May and will be one of Anagrama's most important titles at FIL Guadalajara 2022.

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