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Each year since 1976, Spain's Ministry of Culture has awarded the country's equivalent of the Booker or the Nobel Prize for Literature to one of the world's most distinguished living Spanish-language writers. Past laureates have included not just Spain's poet Rafael Alberti as well as novelists Camilo José Cela, Miguel Delibes, Juan Goytisolo, and Ana María Matute, but also legendary Latin American luminaries such as Argentine Jorge Luis Borges; Cuban Alejo Carpentier; Mexicans Carlos Fuentes, Octavio Paz, and Elena Poniatowska; and Peruvian Mario Vargas Llosa. Last year the honor went to Ida Vitale, a Uruguayan poet living in the United States.
Named after the 17th-century novelist considered the most iconic of Spain's greatest writers and the country's answer to Shakespeare, the Premio Miguel de Cervantes is presented by the country's king on the novelist's birthday, April 23, at the ancient and famed university in his birthplace, the Madrid-Community town of Alcalá de Henares. This year the prize for 2019 was bestowed - although the in-person ceremony was cancelled due to the coronavirus lockdown - upon a distinguished 82-year-old poet from Catalonia.