Very excited to announce that I'll be traveling to the Bread Loaf Translator's Conference in June 2023 on a full scholarship to continue my translation of Sabina Urraca's cosmic and electric debut novel, Las niñas prodigio (Fulgencio Pimental 2017). Read the first chapter in my translation in the Washington Square Review!
More about Sabina here.
Las niñas prodigio, or, Girl Prodigies, is a book I struggle to describe succinctly. It is part ghost story, part pop-culture coming of age story. A woman retreats to a dilapidated country house to write when she is confronted not only by the home’s past inhabitants, but also by the episodic memories of her own childhood misadventures. What unravels is a coming-of-age story that is truly fantastic, a frenetic plastic pop 90’s glitter holographic-alien extravaganza populated by deranged neighbors, perverts, the violent kids you went to school with, washed-up 80s gymnasts, Punky Brewster, and Drew Barrymore. It is a coming-of-age story that is simultaneously mundane and surreal, unafraid to draw on the cellophane-culture of a burgeoning internet era yet timeless in its treatment of adolescence and the characters that make life so dazzling, so strange. Urraca draws the reader into the exciting, illicit world her young narrator inhabits, each chapter a distinct memory raw with the energy of youth, imbued with tenderness—an innocence even— before the feral nature of kids raised in a demented world. Urraca is preoccupied with what it means to be a gifted young woman in a world that is sometimes broken, a world that does harm, but not always intentionally. Urraca’s astonishing compassion for the controversy-stirring characters that orbit our narrator is exhilarating. The main character’s unique, darkly-charmed vision of the world mesmerizes as she navigates her relationship with an older alcoholic man and family friend as well as her consuming desire not just to be noticed, but to be brilliant—exceptional. Equal parts zany pop-culture cacophony and coming of age ghost story, Las niñas prodigio is an incredibly poignant novel given Urraca’s masterful ability to write beautiful, twisted characters who do not neatly fall into any moral dichotomy.
By Sabina Urraca
Alta 2023 in Tucson🌵🎊
Thrilled to announce that I've been selected for an ALTA Travel Fellowship to attend the 2023 conference in Tucson, where I'll be presenting my translation in progress of Girl Prodigies by Sabina Urraca. Check out the announcement here!
by Claudia Morales
Winner of Mexico's National Rosario Castellanos Prize in 2015, No Habrá Retorno by Claudia Morales (Chiapas 1988) is an homage to those who have relocated in one way or another. In this deceptively slim novel, various experiences of displacement, movement, and memory are further complicated by the relationships we hold onto, for better or for worse. Composed of three interlocking narratives, No Way Back asks serious questions about our lasting impact on the world we inhabit while providing necessary depth to modern immigrant narratives. Morales' thoughtfully crafted characters are multi-faceted and imperfect, operating in a world imbued with equal parts brutality and tenderness:
An elderly translator struggles to unravel her memories of being a young, Jewish, lesbian and member of the Communist Party in New York who falls in love with her adoptive sister, Janet, how their lives intersected with that of the famed photographer, Marcey Jacobson, and their eventual relocation to Mexico during the height of McCarthyism. As this narrator explores her own beliefs about political dissidence, fascism, and love, she is haunted by her memories of Ota Benga, the Mbuti Pygmy man kidnapped from the Congo to be put on exhibit at the Bronx zoo.
Two present-day teenagers, Oliver from Honduras and El Gavilán from Guatemala, cross Mexico on foot and by train to reach the United States. Oliver is disturbed by his traveling companion's ruthlessness, and conflicts of personality stoke tensions between the two as they confront the few options that lay before them. Through a series of flashbacks, it is revealed that Oliver is gay and closeted.
A Mexican academic returns to her family's remote ranch after her professor's suicide abruptly ends their affair. While there, she is destined to encounter lingering ghosts of her family's complicated history, including the patriarchal abuse suffered by her grandmother, the treatment of a disabled cousin, and class-tensions between her family and their employees on the ranch.
Más sobre No habrá retorno aquí y aquí
Part medical archival document, part lyrical interpretation, Anna y Hans is a jarring book-length poem that follows two historical figures, one real and one invented, Hans Asperger, the Austrian psychiatrist who claimed to have discovered the range of disorders in the autism spectrum, and his fictitious neurodivergent patient, eleven-year-old Anna Knapp. In this work Villeda explores the historical context surrounding Hans Asperger, who believed that the disorder he supposedly discovered did not present itself in female patients. By inventing the voice of a neurodivergent female patient that Asperger never had, Villeda highlights the erasure and misogyny of the medical field in relation to neurodivergence and diagnosis in women, and then takes this topic one step further by investigating the connections between neurodivergence, certain types of linguistic aphasias, and lyricism. Villeda’s exploration of misogyny in the medical field, the meaning of language and normative language usage, and institutional fascism are intertwined to create a powerful, uncanny poetic work that challenges our conception of recorded history.
By Karen Villeda
Select reviews and Press Coverage:
https://www.facebook.com/watch/?v=657714385640560 Interview with Irma Gallo
The Summer of Dead Fish
The Dwindling light of our days
By Pablo Ottonello
En la voz de Pablo Ottonello caben por lo menos tantas voces como cuentos tiene El verano de los peces muertos: un territorio al borde de sí mismo —de su propio abismo, de su fin— que simultáneamente se abre como un mapa de potencias y puentes, como si quisiera responder a la pregunta de ¿quién sabe lo que puede una voz? Puede mucho, parece. Y va a poder más: autor y editor parecen haber decidido desplegar esos indicios en este volumen. Voy a tomar, por la ubicación nomás, y por lo escueto del género contratapa, el primero y el último. En Klimowicz hay un neurólogo que comienza a describir a su amor como uno de esos viajeros naturalistas describían los pueblos del nuevo mundo que recorrían con afán de recolectar y sistematizar conocimiento. Un hombre que narra desde un marco teórico sólido hasta que su amor pierde —o encuentra— el norte, y al científico se le fisura el edificio y el relato empieza a construir una fisura como quien construye los restos de un incendio. También, pero ya sin marco biologicista, construye restos el último relato, el que le da el nombre al libro: lo que deja el boom sojero y sus plaguicidas, narrado desde el punto de vista de un cineasta que está buscando un guión y lo escribe en el marco del relato de sus extrañas vacaciones de fin de mundo. El verano de los peces muertos es el collage polifónico de una descomposición. La nuestra.
-Gabriela Cabezón Cámara
Presentation of No Way Back with Los Libros Del Perro Press
Thrilled to have been a presenter for Los Libros del Perro's reissue of No Way Back with the author, Claudia Morales, poet, Juan Carlos Cabrera Pons, and publisher, Zel Cabrera.
The Dodo flips between four different narrative perspectives, past and present, like slides rotating in a projector; alternating flashes of darkness and light--flashbulb visions of adolescence come and gone. These rapidly evolving chapters provide the Dodo, Catalina, with clues about the mysterious disappearance of her mother all the while exploring concepts of masculinity, homosexuality, authoritarianism, and fascism. As the novel progresses and Catalina draws nearer to discovering the truth about her revolutionary mother, the narrative imagery becomes more grand, stranger, wholly enmeshed with the absurdity of the historical facts themselves; there is an underground insurgency, prophetic dreams linked to a preserved anaconda skin, a ghost who takes down telephone messages and the sexual awakening of a burgeoning trapeze artist. These stories, set against the history of Chile's violent USA-backed coup and dictatorship and the youth-led resistance who fought against it, are unraveled more than a decade later by the Dodo, whose unorthodox coming of age journey illustrates the perils of inter-generational trauma and the stranger than fiction nature of adolescence.
Learn more about Mandy here.
by Mandy Gutmann-González
Out now from Catapult Press featuring my translation of Iván Parra Garcia's story, "The Resplendence of Disappearing."
Learn more about Iván here.
Praise for Tiny Nightmares:
"...translated from the original Spanish by Allana C. Noyes into spare, brittle English that recalls Cormac McCarthy." in Kirkus Reviews.