On 16 April 2020 the famous Chilean writter Luis Sepùlveda died of coronavirus at Oviedo, Spain, at the age of 71; one of the great contemporary authors, he wrote hugely successful books that have been translated throughout the world. Deeply sorry for his decease, we remember him with affection as our guest at San Polo for the award ceremony of the 1995 XIII edition of the Gambrinus Giuseppe Mazzotti Literary Prize, which he won in the 'Exploration - Travel' section with his book Patagonia Express, published by Feltrinelli.
The jury motivated its choice as follows: “A collection of twelve travel notes, milestones in a long itinerary through the solitude of Patagonia, by a narrator who epitomises the South American literary tradition and is also engaged in ecological battles".
A man and writer who since then has increasingly shown himself to be in tune with the spirit and sensitivity of our Prize and of Mazzotti himself. Like him, a fighting spirit, passionate about the environment, life and people.
On the same occasion, Adriano Zanotto, the Chef of Ristorante Parco Gambrinus, awarded him the 'Gambero d’Oro' (Golden Crayfish).
Antonio Beltrame, secretary to the Prize, remembers him:
«He was not yet so famous, although he had his fans. I was struck by that Latin look of the south, that jovial way of speaking, his large, farmer's hands, the simplicity of a man of the people. He came with the son of Inge Feltrinelli, his publisher at the time, and his book was presented by Lionello Puppi, who also interviewed him. He participated with enthusiasm: they talked about travel and civic battles, but above all about marginalisation and the environment: for him sustainability was a fixation, indeed he became a Greenpeace and Slow Food activist. He repeatedly said that he felt like a farmer, not with a plough or spade, but rather for the landscapes in which he grew up. He was enthusiastic about the Treviso countryside, particularly the Veneto villas, which he saw as a form of beauty alongside an agricultural economy. In my memory remains his simplicity, his strong handshake to the members of the jury and audience, the wide smile of a man with a hunger for life. He moved the audience when, taking his leave, he paid tribute to his friend Chico Mendes, who he defined as "a man of few words and many actions", honouring his courageous battles to defend the Amazon and its population. We can happily say that he shared a brief stretch of the road with us - something beautiful that gives meaning to our literary prize.