Michael Jacobs Travel Writing Grant 2024

Michael Jacobs Travel Writing Grant 2024

Following the death of Michael Jacobs in 2014, the Gabo Foundation and Hay Festival Cartagena de Indias initiated the Michael Jacobs Travel Writing Grant. This year, commemorating the 10th anniversary of the English writer's passing, a new edition of the call for entries has been launched, funded by the Michael Jacobs Foundation for Travel Writing, a non-profit organization created by Michael's widow and brother to honor his legacy and promote travel writing in Spain and Latin America.

Apply here

The scholarship, now in its 10th edition with the goal of encouraging travel chronicles, will award US$10,000 for a book project or travel article on Latin America or Spain, to be published in Spanish or English.

The jury, which this year has two new members, will take into account the narrative quality and journalistic depth of the projects to choose the winner. For Michael Jacobs, travel journalism goes beyond the simple anecdotal experience and for this reason he is looking for works capable of awakening the five senses and opening the mind of any reader.

The official announcement of the winner will be made at the Hay Festival Cartagena de Indias 2024, which will take place from January 25 to 28.


» The grant

10,000 american dollars as an incentive to finance the research and writing of their article or book. The amount includes the taxes to be paid by the beneficiary and the sponsoring institutions. The grant will be awarded as follows: the first half ($5,000) when the winner is announced and the other half ($5,000) when the project is completed and submitted for publication.

The winner will be invited to participate as a judge for the next edition of the Michael Jacobs Travel Writing Grant.


» Requirements

  • Journalists and writers of any nationality may apply as long as their work covers travel writing set in Spanish Latin America or Spain, and written in either Spanish or English.

  • An autobiography of no more than 800 words (in Spanish or English) describing your experience as a travel journalist and your motivation to apply for the fellowship. Conventional resumes or CVs will not be considered.

  • A detailed presentation of the project (article or book) that includes a project description, timetable, and expected itinerary. The article or book must be written in Spanish or English. 
  • The project does not necessarily have to be completed, as the grant seeks to support an ongoing project, but at least a fragment of the work must be submitted, as the jury must evaluate the author's narrative skills.
  • A piece by the author published in print or digitally. The candidate must have at least one article or book published at the time of submitting the application.

Important: Only online entries made through the registration form on the Gabo Foundation's website will be valid until Friday, December 15, 2023, at 11:59 p.m. (Colombian time).


» The jury

Abraham Jiménez Enoa (Cuba)

Cuban journalist. He has published reports and opinion columns in The New York Times, BBC World, Al Jazeera, Vice News, Gatopardo and Univision, among other international media. He is the author of the journalistic book La isla oculta (2023), a collection of chronicles of the last five years in Cuba. His chronicle "El cazador" was included in Cuba in La Encrucijada, an anthology published in Spanish by Debate and in English by HarperCollins. Jiménez Enoa graduated as a journalist from the Faculty of Communication at the University of Havana and co-founded El Estornudo, the first Cuban online magazine dedicated to narrative journalism.

Teresita Goyeneche (Colombia)

Journalist and writer. She has worked for organizations such as the Leo Espinosa Foundation, the Gabo Foundation, and Mutante; and has written for media outlets including El Malpensante, the Spanish-language edition of Vice, and El Espectador. She is an International Relations graduate from the Universidad del Norte and holds a master's degree in Creative Nonfiction Writing from Columbia University. She is currently a doctoral student at the City University of New York (CUNY) and a professor at Hunter College. 

In 2017, Teresita was a finalist for the Inter American Press Association (IAPA) awards in the Chronicle category, an intern of the Beca Gabo in 2018, and received recognition from the jury of the Simón Bolívar National Journalism Awards in the Chronicle category in 2022 for her travel writing piece “Volver”. Her first book, “La personalidad de los pelícanos” (Tusquets), was published in 2022.

Mar Abad (Spain)

She is a journalist and writer. Editorial director and co-founder of the podcast label El Extraordinario. She is the author of 'Romanones, una zarzuela del poder en 37 actos' (Libros del K.O.), 'Antiguas pero modernas' (Libros del K.O.), 'El folletín ilustrado' (Lunwerg) and 'De estraperlo a postureo' (Larousse).

She has received the following awards: Archiletras de la Lengua 2022 Award, ForoTransfiere Journalism Award for Science and Technology Communication 2022, Don Quijote Journalism Award 2020, Miguel Delibes Award 2019, Colombine International Journalism Award 2018 and Accenture Journalism Award 2017 in the innovation category.

Jon Lee Anderson (United States)

He began his career as a journalist in Peru in 1979 as a member of the weekly The Lima Times and since then has specialized in Latin American politics and modern conflicts, including those in Afghanistan and Iraq. He has developed his own school of profile writing, having developed portraits of important global personalities such as Fidel Castro, Gabriel García Márquez, Augusto Pinochet, King Juan Carlos I of Spain, and Hugo Chávez. His books include Che Guevara: A Revolutionary Life (1997), The Lion's Grave: Dispatches from Afghanistan (2002), and The Fall of Baghdad (2004). He has also written articles for The New York Times, Financial Times, The Guardian, El País, and Harper's Magazine.

In 2013, Jon Lee Anderson received the Maria Moors Cabot Award which every year is granted by Columbia University in New York. Since 2000, he has been a teacher at the Fundación Gabo and since 2014 a  member of the jury of the Michael Jacobs Travel Writing Grant.

Daniel Samper Pizano (Colombia)

He began his career at the age of 19 writing for El Tiempo, a paper where he later became a columnist. He has a PhD in law from the Universidad Javeriana in Bogotá, a masters in journalism from the University of Kansas, and was a Nieman Fellow at Harvard University. In 1986 he was forced to exile himself to Spain. There he has been a correspondent, reporter, columnist, and editor of the magazine Cambio 16 and collaborated with other publications.

He is a professor of journalism and frequently participates in courses and workshops. He is also a television screenwriter, the official biographer of the group Les Luthiers, and a member of the Colombian Academy of Language. He has published over thirty books and obtained numerous awards for this journalism, among them Maria Moors Cabot, Rey de España, Simón Bolívar, and honors from the Madrid Press Association.


» About Michael Jacobs

Travel literature can enhance our understanding of the world in a unique way. Having the potential to span so many different forms of writing - from fiction to autobiography, from journalism to history - it allows authors to explore ideas and disciplines with a freedom that would not be possible within a more academic context".

This is what Michael Jacobs had to say about the great passion to which he dedicated a great portion of his life: travel writing. Jacobs was born in Italy in 1952, spent his youth in England, and later traveled to different parts of the world, investigating and writing about Spain and Latin America. He became a notable Hispanist and a passionate devotee of Spanish culture.

Although he studied art history at Courtauld Institute, he decided to leave behind that career to become a full-time writer. After writing several books on art,  he wrote a book on Andalucía, the first of many books dedicated to this region of Spain. He later took up residence in a small town called Frailes in the province of Jaén, the subject of The Factory of Light: Tales From My Andalucian Village, an account of his first five years in this village of two thousand people.

In 2003, he wrote Ghost Train Through the Andes, a tale of his journey through Chile and Bolivia,  on the train track on which  his grandfather  worked between Antofagasta and Potosí and on to Cochabamba.

Michael Jacobs' appeal in the Spanish-speaking world was so great that the small town of Frailes became his Macondo. Perhaps that explains why the day that he met Gabo at the Cartagena Hay Festival influenced his life. They spoke about Gabo's memories of the Magdalena River, an obsession of Jacobs'. That meeting with García Márquez moved the Englishman to travel along the waterway the next year, a journey recorded in his book “The Robber of Memories”. This, his last  completed book, is not only a portrait of the most important river artery in Colombia but also a nostalgic reminiscence of his relationship to his parents and his childhood.

Today, Jacobs is a global benchmark when it comes to travel writing and his work is well-established in travel writing canons. Michael Jacobs died in London on January 11, 2014, leaving behind an unmatched and evocative legacy.


» Selected bibliography

  • Andalusia

  • Between Hopes and Memories: A Spanish Journey

  • In the Glow of the Phantom Palace: Travels between Granada and Timbuktu

  • The Factory of Light: Tales from my Andalucian Village

  • Ghost Train Through the Andes

  • The Robber of Memories


» How to apply

  • To register for the Michael Jacobs Travel Writing Grant, please follow the steps below:

  • Click on the fuchsia "Register" button.

  • Log in to our application platform or, if you don't have an account yet, sign up with your email, Facebook or Google account.

  • Fill out the form shown on the platform and attach the required documents mentioned in 'Application Requirements'.

  • Click on submit.


» Winners of the Michael Jacobs Travel Writing Grant

2023 - Abraham Jiménez Enoa

Landing in the world

For Jiménez Enoa, 'Landing in the world' is a travel project through the western cities where he has lived the first year outside Cuba, but also a journey from the present to the past, because everything that happens in his new life as an exile is "a reminiscence" of his past on the island. "The journey is not a tourist trip, it is not a trip with the intention of discovering these cities. It is my life on a journey," writes the journalist in his proposal.

2022 - Federico Guzmán (México)

Yes, There Is Such a Place: a Journey to the Ruins of Latin American Utopias

According to the jury, it is a very interesting proposal that leads to reflection on the new worlds that were founded in America, the ideas that promoted them and what was left of them. It is an attractive project due to the narrative pulse that the author imprints on it and its commitment to a historical travel chronicle. It is also a proposal consistent with the spirit of who Michael Jacobs was in life: someone possessed of a great enthusiasm for life and a great curiosity to learn more about the human condition; a beloved legacy that has inspired this scholarship in his name.

2021 - Santiago Wills (Colombia)

The Shadow of the Jaguar: Capturing the Spirit of the Americas

For Wills this project is the opportunity to materialize, in a nonfiction book, the ubiquity of the jaguar on the continent, its life and its relationship with the places and people that surround it. The author aspires to build a work that allows us to understand the life of the jaguar and how its existence has transformed those who share its territories.

2020 - J. S. Tennant (England)

Mrs Gargantua and the Idea of Cuba

A book that eschews the often over-exoticised narratives to give an unconventional, deeply researched meditation on the revolutionary island of Cuba and its relationship with the outside world. Combining travel, history, biography and reportage, the author reveals an island that has too often been, to outsiders, an imagined or fantastical space, as much as a real one. From Columbus’ distortions to the Missile Crisis, the Castros and Guantanamo, the book reveals previously unknown aspects of the country and explores its enduring ability to harbor secrets.

2019 - Ernesto Picco (Argentina)

Dreaming of the Islands: a chronicle of the Falklands beyond the war.

This book is an immersion in the reality of the islands and paints a picture of how people live in this small archipelago lost in the Atlantic, who inhabits it, what  are their personal stories and what remains of that war that left more than 900 dead.

2018 - Sabrina Duque (Ecuador)

VolcáNica, chronicles from an erupting country

VolcaNica—which combines the word volcanic and the Central American nickname for Nicaraguans, nicas—is an acute, intense, insightful travel book, which offers a double-layered vision of the country’s volcanic nature, also reflected in its history of shake-ups, explosions, and outbursts.

2017 - Diego Cobo (Spain)

Black Footprints: the Trail of Slavery

This work of journalism comprises a series of pieces on the consequences of the trade of African slaves in places such as Gambia, Jamaica, Colombia, and Cuba.

2016 - Federico Bianchini (Argentina)

Antarctica: 25 days locked in ice

Making it to Antarctica is hard, but it's much harder to make it out of Antarctica. Bianchini writes about the uniqueness of the lives of the men and women who carry out research on one of the Argentine bases on that frigid, virgin continent. What was meant to be a weeklong stay turned into an almost month-long confinement. The book was published in 2017 by Editorial Tusquets.

2015 - Álex Ayala Ugarte (Spain)

Rigor Mortis: Normal is death

This book of sixteen stories gives an account of a journey across the Bolivian plateau after the footprints of death. From the region of Chaco to the high waters of the Titicaca, Ayala paints a portrait of death and how human beings accept it in the midst of Bolivian cultural diversity. The book was published in 2016 by Editorial El Cuervo.

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