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Book Fair tells grand prize winner to stay at home

October 27, 2012

Peruvian author Alfredo Bryce Echenique will not attend Guadalajara’s International Book Fair (FIL) to receive this year’s grand prize, after the organizing committee rescinded his invitation last week in an attempt to avoid further controversy.

Bryce has been accused of plagiarizing a number of newspaper and magazine articles and the decision to award him the FIL’s Literary Award in Romantic Languages has proved highly polemic, with a number of high-profile writers calling for it to be overturned.

However, 110 writers and literature experts published an open letter in defense of Bryce last week, condemning “the press campaign that some media organizations have launched against him” as “unusually violent and disturbing.”

Bryce will be the first winner of the FIL’s grand prize not to attend the ceremony to give an acceptance speech in 22 years, but he will still receive the award and the prize money of 150,000 dollars.

“It’s a disappointing decision. It is not mine and I respect it,” Bryce said.

“This decision is to avoid scandal and to avoid disruption of the book fair, but also to respect the jury’s decision,” said Dulce Maria Zuñiga, the director of the FIL Award Association. Zuñiga will travel to Lima to present Bryce with the prize next month.

The 26th FIL runs from November 24 to December 2. Chile is this year’s guest of honor.

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