The jury for the 2022 Michael Jacobs Travel Writing Grant, comprised of Jon Lee Anderson (USA), Daniel Samper Pizano (Colombia), and Santiago Wills (Colombia), met in Cartagena on January 27, 2022 to select the winning proposal from a total of 254 travel books or articles on Latin America or Spain.
The jury highlighted an improvement in the quality of the proposals submitted with respect to previous editions, while noting their concern about the frequent confusion between long-form travel writing—which shows, narrates, and explains—and travel guides. During the judging process, Anderson, Samper, and Wills positively evaluated projects that are part of a unit, written with strong language, making use of a clear and powerful structure and narrative that opens the door to fascinating stories about the real world.
After deliberation, the jury unanimously chose Federico Guzmán Rubio (Mexico) as the winner for his project entitled “Yes, There Is Such a Place: a Journey to the Ruins of Latin American Utopias.” Federico Guzmán proposes a book of long-form travel chronicles to narrate the way through the ruins left behind by some Latin American utopias. This project will take him to Michoacán (Mexico), Martín García Island (Argentina), Paraná and Santarem (Brazil), Solentiname (Nicaragua), and Santa Fe (Mexico).
According to the jury, it is a very interesting proposal that inspires us to reflect on the new worlds that were founded in America, the ideas that drove them, and what is left of them. It is an appealing project because of the author’s narrative pulse and his commitment to historical travel writing. This proposal is also consistent with the spirit of who Michael Jacobs was during his life: someone with a great zest for life and a great curiosity to learn more about the human condition—an endearing legacy that has inspired this grant in his name.