Translated from the original Spanish by Lizzie Davis and Thomas Bunstead
María and her granddaughter Alicia have never met. Decades apart, both make the same journey to Madrid in search of work and independence. María, scraping together a living as a cleaner and carer, sending money back home for the daughter she hardly knows; Alicia, raised in prosperity until a family tragedy, now trapped in a poorly paid job and a cycle of banal infidelities. Their lives are marked by precarity, and by the haunting sense of how things might have been different. Through a series of arresting vignettes, Elena Medel weaves together a broken family’s story, stretching from the last years of Franco’s dictatorship to mass feminist protests in contemporary Madrid. Audacious, intimate and shot through with razor-edged lyricism, The Wonders is a revelatory novel about the many ways that lives are shaped by class, history and feminism: about what has changed for working class women, and what has remained stubbornly the same.
About the Author/Translator:
Elena Medel was born in Córdoba in 1985 and lives in Madrid. She is the author of three poetry collections and two works of nonfiction. At 19 she founded the poetry publishing house La Belle Varsovia, one of the most prestigious in the Spanish speaking world. She is the recipient of the XXVI Loewe Prize for Young Poets, the Princess of Girona Foundation Arts and Literature Award 2016 for the whole of her work, and the Francisco Umbral Prize for the Best Book of the Year 2020. The Wonders is her first novel, and will be translated into thirteen languages.
Lizzie Davis is a translator and an editor at Coffee House Press. Her recent translations include My First Bikini by Elena Medel and Ornamental by Juan Cárdenas, which was a finalist for the 2021 PEN Translation Prize.
Thomas Bunstead is a writer and translator. His recent translations include The Things We’ve Seen by Agustín Fernández Mallo, which was the recipient of a PEN Translation Award, and Water Over Stones, a co-translation with Margaret Jull Costa.
Nominating Library’s Comments:
Elena Medel’s first novel is a poetic and vivid portrait about two Spanish working-class women, Alicia y María, who are limited by class and gender dynamics. The novel stands out for its rhythmic prose and unforgettable characters. – Biblioteca de Andalucía, Spain