The prize, which includes €50,000 (approx. $66,000), is given by the Prince of Asturias Foundation.
Muñoz Molina was selected “for the depth and brilliance with which he has narrated relevant fragments of his country’s history, crucial episodes of the contemporary world and meaningful aspects of his personal experience—a body of work which admirably reveals his condition as an intellectual with a commitment to his time,” the selection jury said in announcing the award.
Past winners of the prize include novelist Philip Roth (2012), poet and singer-songwriter Leonard Cohen (2011), and novelist Carlos Fuentes (1994).
A native of Spain, Muñoz Molina had worked as a journalist prior to publishing his first novel, Beatus Ille [A Manuscript of Ashes], in 1986. Invierno en Lisboa [Winter in Lisbon] (1987) earned him the Critics Award and the National Narrative Prize. In 1991, he won the Planeta Prize for El jinete polaco [The Polish Horseman], which also captured the National Narrative Prize. His 1998 work, Plenilunio [Full Moon], won France’s Prix Femina for best foreign novel. In 2004, Muñoz Molina, a full member of the Royal Spanish Academy, was appointed director of the Cervantes Institute in New York, where he wrote La noche de los tiempos [In the Night of Time] (2010).
Muñoz Molina is a faculty member in NYU’s Department of Spanish and Portuguese Languages and Literatures, where he teaches in the Creative Writing in Spanish MFA program. He has also won the Jean Monnet Prize of European Literature, the Prix Mediterranee Etranger, the Jerusalem Prize, and the Qué Leer Prize.
The foundation has given prizes in other fields this year. The Prince of Asturias Award for the Arts went to filmmaker and playwright Michael Haneke, the Prince of Asturias Award for Social Sciences was given to sociologist Saskia Sassen, the Prince of Asturias Award for Communication and Humanities went to photographer Annie Leibovitz, and the Prince of Asturias Award for Technical and Scientific Research was jointly bestowed on physicists Peter Higgs and François Englert, together with the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN).
The awards will be presented in the fall in Oviedo, Spain at a ceremony chaired by H.R.H. the Prince of Asturias.
The Prince of Asturias Awards, the foundation said, aim “to reward scientific, technical, cultural, social, and humanitarian work carried out at an international level by individuals, institutions or groups of individuals or institutions.”