The University of Iowa

In the news: Award-winning author, UI professor draws inspiration from Iowa City community

January 24th, 2020

Professor of Spanish and Portuguese Ana Merino poses for a portrait in her Phillips Hall office on Tuesday. Merino recently won the Premio Nadal for her book, El mapa de los afectos.

By Rachel Schilke, The Daily Iowan

University of Iowa Professor Latina Ana Merino was awarded the most prestigious literature award in Spain in honor of her novel El mapa de los afectos, translated to the “map of affections.”

The Premio Nadal is the oldest literary prize that is awarded in Spain, dating back to 1944.

Originally from Spain, Merino said she finds the Midwest distinctive culture from other places she has lived in the U.S. over the last 25 years.

“You think, ‘Oh, it’s just a rural area,’ but Iowa has a special beauty to it,” Merino said. “It has a special sense of place and time, and that makes it very inspiring.”

Iowa City’s “perspective of inspiration” influenced her award-winning novel, providing a universal setting that would reflect how she felt about the Midwest.

“This novel reflects my understanding of my American experience,” Merino said. “The meaning is linked with the Midwest and with Iowa.”

This is not the first award Merino has accepted. She has won awards for various academic and creative achievements. In 1994, Merino was given the Premio Adonais, the most prestigious Spanish poetry award, by Ediciones RIALP, a poetry publication organization founded in Madrid in 1949.

Merino is the only recipient in history to be honored with both awards.