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Argentine writers win Spain's Alfaguara prize for historical novel

MADRID, Spain (AP) _ Argentine authors Graciela Montes and Ema Wolf have won Spain's Alfaguara Spanish-language literary prize for their novel, ``El Turno del Escriba,'' or ``The Scribe's Turn,'' which tells the story of explorer Marco Polo and his scribe.

The novel is a ``re-creation of a fascinating epoch for humanity, that of the discoveries and the attraction of the unknown,'' the seven-member jury said Monday in a presentation.

The work was chosen from seven finalists. There were a total of 649 entries, of which 457 were from Latin American writers. The award carries a cash prize of $175,000.

Montes and Wolf are known in Argentina for their children's books.

Speaking by telephone during the presentation, the two writers said writing the book with two minds was a memorable experience.

``It's a thoroughly documented novel,'' Montes said. ``The historic part is totally real and the fiction parts are the gaps that history leaves.''

The novel is set in the Italian city of Genoa during the 13th century and tells the story of Polo and his scribe, Rusticello.

The prize is organized by Alfaguara, an imprint of Santillana Publishing. Colombia's Laura Restrepo won the prize last year for her novel, ``Delirio,'' or ``Delirium.''
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