A woman won a $1m literary prize. Three men turned up to collect the check.

By Rob Beschizza

Three men were "lured out of anonymity" to collect a $1m prize won by the latest ultraviolent thriller by "Carmen Mola", thereby revealing her as the writing team's pseudonym.

Their lead character in the Carmen Mola novels is detective Elena Blanco, a "peculiar and solitary woman, who loves grappa, karaoke, classic cars and sex in SUVs", according to publisher Penguin Random House.

The men, all in their 40s and 50s, denied choosing a female pseudonym to help sell the books. …

"It hasn't escaped anyone's notice that the idea of a university professor and mother of three, who taught algebra classes in the morning then wrote ultra-violent, macabre novels in scraps of free time in the afternoon, made for a great marketing operation," Spanish paper El Mundo noted in an interview with the authors.

They even kept up the pretense through years of interviews and used a model to pose as the nonexistent author for marketing efforts.

The books are plainly airport thrillers that received literary recognition after being presented as "feminist", turning the tradition of cross-gender pen names into a disheartening rug-pull. In this respect Mola is an example of nonthreatening ersatz girl power, exposed as a façade at the exact moment that industry backslapping reached its crescendo. Lots here for everyone to get annoyed with, but in online commentary anger flows toward the women complaining, not the men laughing.