The writer Cristina López Barrio is the winner of the 2024 Azorín Novel Prize with her work ‘The land under your feet’. It tells the story of a young woman who joins the town’s theater and travels to a remote town in Castile within the pedagogical missions to show the culture.

The award – sponsored by the Alicante Provincial Council and the Planeta publishing house – is endowed with 45,000 euros and was announced yesterday Thursday at a gala held in the Auditorium of the Alicante Provincial Council.

‘The Earth Under Your Feet’ tells the love story that the protagonist, Cati Skalo, will live in that town with a country man, to which will be added an intra-history of family sagas, quarrels and a debt of hatred and blood in which the young woman will be involved.

The writer explained that the work tells “the importance of culture, books, music, cinema and art.” “What it makes us feel and the mark that its experience leaves on us as human beings. It tells the importance of culture as a good of spirit.”

The story came to her “in a very unexpected way, as many beautiful things come,” she added, after watching a documentary about Luis Cernuda that mentioned the pedagogical missions, trips that groups of young people made from 1931 to 1935 “through remote towns and villages of Spain carrying culture.”

“I saw some photos that fascinated me and I thought I wanted to write a novel to tell in words the wonder, the smile that these people expressed when they saw a movie for the first time or attended a theater performance. I wanted to give voice to those photos, tell her story. I would have liked to be one of those young women who went on missions, so I imagined my character to travel,” she explained excitedly.

The novel is set in July 1935 and stars a cultured young woman from the city who joins the town’s theater, directed by the playwright Alejandro Casona, whose words about pedagogical missions inspired the writer.

“It tells about coexistence and exchange, because one of the things that the missionaries said was that they taught them culture, but they also learned a lot from the folklore rooted in these towns. It was a wonderful framework to develop this story of love and friendship,” he pointed.

During the mission, Cati Skalo goes to live in a house in the town with a woman, her son and her brother, and finds herself immersed in the quarrels between two families.

During the press conference after the award ceremony, jury member and writer Juan Eslava indicated that the work has “several expansive stone waves in the pond.” He highlighted the “perfect balance between different characters and environments”, which in his opinion is “the most wonderful thing, among many wonders” of the novel.

Eslava assured that the work “engages from the first page” and admitted that, although as a jury he must take notes when reading the novels, “the reader overpowered the jury” and focused solely on reading; “It is very difficult for a young person to write such a dense and well-made novel.”

Cristina López Barrio (Madrid, 1970) is a lawyer and writer. In 2017 she was a finalist for the Planeta Prize with the mystery and emotional novel ‘Niebla en Tánger’, in which a married and bored woman embarks on a fleeting adventure with a mysterious man.

He studied Law at the Complutense University of Madrid, and in 2009 he won the II Villa Pozuelo de Alarcón Prize for Young People’s Novels, with the work ‘The man who was dizzy with the rotation of the Earth’, which he published in the Everest publishing house.

Later, he published ‘The House of Impossible Loves’ (Plaza