The jury has chosen the author "for his fundamental contribution to the modernization and international projection of the Basque and Spanish languages, through a narrative impregnated with poetry in which he has brilliantly combined reality and fiction."
The prize, awarded by the Ministry of Culture and Sports, is endowed with 40,000 euros. It distinguishes the whole of the literary work, in any of the Spanish languages, of a Spanish author, whose work is considered as an integral part of the whole of current Spanish literature.
Joseba Irazu Garmendia (Asteasu, Gipuzkoa, 1951) is known by the literary pseudonym of Bernardo Atxaga. He studied Economic Sciences in the University of Bilbao and Philosophy and Letters in the University of Barcelona. He is a member of the Royal Academy of the Basque Language / Euskaltzaindia, since 2006, and member of Jakiunde / Academy of Sciences, Arts and Letters, from 2010.
Most of his work, written and published in Basque, can be read in 32 languages. He is an author who cultivates all genres: novel, poetry, theater, essay, or children's literature, and has also written lyrics for songs by pop, folk and rock artists.
He began writing stories in Basque together with the avant-garde literary movements of Euskadi in the late 70s. The first, Borobila eta puntua it was published in 1972, together with the works of other Basque authors, in the volume Euskal Literature-72, directed by the poet Gabriel Aresti.
His story Camilo Lizardi erretore jaunaren etxean aurkitutako gutunaren azalpena (Exhibition of the letter of the canon Lizardi) is the City of San Sebastián Award and presents for the first time the legendary territory of Obaba. There are some of his best-known stories, such as Sugeak txoriari begiratzen dionean (When the snake looks at the bird) (1984), Bi letter (Two letter) (1984), the novel Bi anai (Two brothers) (1985, Critics Award) and, above all Obabakoak (1988), the work that has given him the most fame and recognition. Translated into 26 languages, it has been awarded the Critics Award, the Euskadi Prize, the National Narrative Prize and the Millepages Prize in Paris, and was a finalist in the European Literary Award.
He has subsequently published other novels such as Gizona Bere Bakardadean (The Man Alone) (1993, Euskadi de Plata Award in Basque and Critics Award), Zeru Horiek (Those Skies) (nineteen ninety five), Soinujolearen semea (The accordionist's son) (2004, Critics Award of the Bilbao Book Fair, Grinzane Cavour Award and Mondello Award), Zazpi etxe Frantzian (Seven houses in France) (2009), Nevadako egunak (Nevada Days) (2013, Euskadi Award and Critics Award) or Txoriak kolpeka (Birds that beat) (2014). In 1994 he was added to the IBBY Honor Roll by Behi euskaldun baten memoriak (Memories of a cow).
Among his essays stand out Lekuak (Places) (2005) or Markak Gernika 1937 (Marks. Gernika 1937) (2007), a work in which he reflects on the Nazi bombardment of the town.
The jury has been chaired by Carlos Alberdi Alonso, director of the Cabinet of the Minister of Culture and Sports, and as vice president has acted Begoña Cerro Prada, deputy general director of Promotion of the Book, Reading and Spanish Letters. As members they have acted: at the proposal of the Royal Galician Academy / Royal Galician Academy, Ramón Villares Paz; by Royal Academy of the Basque Language / Euskaltzaindia; María Aitzpea Goenaga Mendiola; for him Institute of Catalan Studies / Institut d'Estudis Catalans, Carles Duarte i Montserrat; by Conference of Rectors of the Spanish Universities (CRUE), María Teresa Echenique Elizondo; by Association of Writers Association of Spain (ACE), Manuel Rico Rego; by the Spanish Association of Literary Critics, José María Pozuelo Yvancos; by Federation of Journalist Associations of Spain (FAPE), Alicia García de Francisco; for him UNED Gender Studies Center, Ana Isabel Luaces Gutiérrez; and at the proposal of the Minister of Culture and Sports, Juan Antonio Masoliver Ródenas.