Founded in 1964 by the writer Camilo José Cela, who then lived in Palma de Mallorca, together with his two brothers, Juan Carlos and Jorge, and with financial support from the builder Jesús Huarte, the Alfaguara publishing house is today, more than half a century later, an indisputable reference of literature in Spanish. The jury of the National Prize for the Best Cultural Editorial Work 2021, granted by the Ministry of Culture, has granted the award to that seal of the sixties and that today publishes 50 new books a year in Spain and has direct editorial plans in others six Spanish-speaking countries. Since 2014 Alfaguara has been a member of one of the five major international publishing groups, Penguin Random House.
Pilar Reyes, Alfaguara’s editorial director, spoke on the work phone of the many label teams: “This is a collective effort in which we continue to persist. We are very proud of this award and we want to dedicate it to the authors as well, because part of Alfaguara continuing to live this way is thanks to the long and faithful relationship with many of them ”. The distinction to the Best Editorial Work is honorary and lacks financial endowment. The award was awarded for the first time in 1994 to the publishers Tusquets and Anagrama, and stamps such as Foam Pages, Alianza, Gredos, Cátedra, Pre-Textos, Renacimiento or Siruela have received them. In the note of the Ministry of Culture and Sports it is emphasized that on this occasion the role that Alfaguara has played in “the history of the Spanish edition was recognized, for its contribution to the training of readers in the best international narrative, for his role in the dissemination of creation in Spanish on both shores and for his innovative contribution to children’s and young people’s literature ”.
After the first years with Cela, the publishing house re-emerged with vigor in the seventies when the editor Jaime Salinas took over the reins of the project. Son of the poet Pedro Salinas and educated in the United States, after passing through Seix Barral and Alianza, Jaime turned to Alfaguara and transformed it. With the offices located in the Torres Blancas skyscraper, legendary meetings of a select editorial committee that included from Juan Benet and Juan García Hortelano to a young Javier Marías —an author who has been publishing on the label for three decades—, the elegant covers designed by Enric Satué, and a children’s and youth collection by Michi Strausfeld, Salinas put together an exquisite and modern label, although not entirely profitable.
In 1980, the publishing house became part of the Santillana Group, thus expanding its activity to the field of general publishing and works of literary creation for all ages. In 1993, under the direction of Juan Cruz, the Alfaguara Global project was launched, with simultaneous edition in Spain and Latin America.
Pilar Reyes started her career in the label 30 years ago in the Bogotá offices when Alfaguara was part of the Santillana group and already piloted the incorporation of the label into Random in Madrid. “I think it is an editorial that knows how to interpret its time, that it does not have a single line, but that it knows how to propose readings and has a wide response among the public,” he said. But despite so many changes such as those it has experienced and with the overwhelming catalog of Alfaguara, Reyes assured that the most radical transformations are being experienced in these last two years. “The ecosystem now is really transforming, the industry has been transformed a lot.”