Translations

I translate literary fiction and poetry as well as essays, interviews, and academic texts. In addition to the books I've translated (listed below), I have also published dozens of shorter pieces in literary journals and anthologies, including texts by Ernesto Cardenal, César Vallejo, Valeria Luiselli, Carmen Boullosa, Edmundo Paz Soldán, and Jorge Luis Borges. 

“A Peruvian journalist’s vibrant musings on pregnancy and childbirth. In this whip-smart follow-up to Sexographies (2018), the author details her nine months of pregnancy as anything but pastel. Wiener interweaves facts on embryonic development and other scientific elements with visceral experience and accounts of her rabbit-hole internet searches to reveal the anxiety of her first full-term pregnancy…. Such dark, fertile forays signal Wiener's original take on the simultaneously common and unique experience of pregnancy…. The author's ruminations are consistently provocative, digging into areas many are not willing to go…. Wiener's reflections on her relationship with her mother, which included microaggressions and tense exchanges, are also illuminating…. Refreshingly literary and offbeat—a mother-to-be book for firebrands.”

—Kirkus Reviews, Starred Review

“With certain writers it doesn’t matter what the book is about, because the brain that created it is so euphoric, so wicked, so irascibly specific, that you want to clear out a corner of your own headspace and beckon the author inside as a permanent tenant. It is for this reason that I, a person who has never been pregnant and has little interest in reproduction, can recommend a book about a pregnant lady who watches trash TV and dreams that she’s going to give birth to a monkey…. [Gabriela Wiener’s] mind is a beautiful and unique organ…. It’s the sort of book you will read and pass on to your friends with a note that says TRUST ME taped to the cover. You needn’t possess a baby to enjoy it. Having once been a fetus is enough.”

—Molly Young, New York Magazine

Nine Moons

by Gabriela Wiener (Restless Books, forthcoming 2020)

The Promise

by Silvina Ocampo (City Lights Books, 2019)

"A seminal work by an underread master. Required for all students of the human condition."" —Kirkus Starred Review

"The Promise brings to an English-speaking public the work of Silvina Ocampo, a writer of great depth and audacity. The Promise, a novel written and rewritten over a period of 25 years, recounts the story of a woman adrift at sea telling and remembering her own life as well as the lives of others. An exquisite, fantastical, and philosophical novel that dwells about the ways one represents a life without fears or conventions. A masterpiece from an extraordinary author who deserves to be read over and over. A gem."—Marjorie Agosin, author of I Lived On Butterfly Hill

“I think Silvina Ocampo is a genius, one of the greatest... She was an extravagant woman when writing her stories, short and crystalline, she was perfect.”— César Aira

Green Was My Forest

by Edna Iturralde (Mandel Vilar Press, 2018)

"In these thirteen delightful stories, children's author Edna Iturralde takes young readers into the dense forests of Ecuadorian Amazonia to encounter six surviving native tribes: the Achuar, the Shuar, the Waorani, the Siona-Secoya, the Quichua, and the Cofán. To children of the developed world, the lives of their Amazonian counterparts will seem vastly different-in terms of dress, diet, housing, work, spiritual beliefs, and rituals—from their own lives; and yet they will find commonalities: love of family, of place, of play, of animals, and of nature. Each story is told from a child's perspective, identify with, and feel empathy for, the fictional characters. Using accessible language, the book balances storytelling with educational features such as maps and descriptions of each tribe. Brilliant ink drawings by the Ecuadorian artists Mauricio Maggiorini, Eulalia Cornejo, and Santiago Gonzalez illustrate each story." —Mandel Vilar Press

venture of the infinite man

by Pablo Neruda (City Lights Books, 2017)

"Experimental, obscure, timeless, essential, venture of the infinite man, published two years after his famous Twenty Love Poems and a Song of Despair, set Pablo Neruda on his course toward becoming the greatest poet in the history of the Spanish language. Its publication in English is a historic event, above all today, above all in this moment, above all, now."—Raúl Zurita

"Powell’s translation is monumental, as much for its fearlessness as for its grace and beauty. For nearly a century, translators avoided the work, as Neruda’s determination to break through poetic and grammatical forms to achieve a higher consciousness produced an aesthetic that was bewildering even to native Spanish speakers. … The translator approaches this work with an absolute willingness to give herself over to its strangeness, and a determination to allow Neruda’s emerging voice to speak for itself.”—Reading in Translation

"Jessica Powell is the 'distant light that illuminates the fruit' of venture of the infinite man, the twenty-two year old Pablo Neruda’s untranslated third book. One part quest and one part inner map, in Powell’s hands the delicious and strange language of the original dances effortlessly in English. Readers can now experience the moment Neruda evolved from being only a brilliant singer of love poems into a maker of rich, stunning worlds. This book is a treasure."—Tomás Q. Morín, author of Patient Zero

  

Wicked Weeds

by Pedro Cabiya (Mandel Vilar Press, 2016)

"[A] Caribbean zombie novel navigates the uncertain pathways of the human heart in this cerebral take on the undead. ...Isadore is one of three complicated women in our protagonist’s life, one of a triptych that includes the passionate and visceral Patricia Cáceres and the naïve and open-hearted Mathilde Álverez. If you asked for a Caribbean version of Shakespeare’s Weird Sisters, you’d get a portrait of these three characters…. "[A] culturally resonant tale of zombie woe"" —Kirkus Reviews

“Threats of a zombie apocalypse seem to be around every corner, but what’s rare is an intelligent, thoughtful, funny, sentimental, socially conscious, and, yes, gross at times zombie tale infused with Caribbean culture, piques, prejudices, and passions. Pedro Cabiya delivers all of this and more in Wicked Weeds, one gentleman zombie’s quest to recapture his lost qualia, that indefinable, internal, sensory perception of self…Whether you consider yourself a lover of zombie fantasies or not, devour Wicked Weeds for its unique perspective, cultural insights, and charged humor.” —Foreword Reviews

Woman in Battle Dress

Antonio Benítez Rojo (City Lights Books, 2015)

"Woman in Battle Dress by Antonio Benítez-Rojo, which has been beautifully translated from the Spanish by Jessica Ernst Powell, is the extraordinary account of an extraordinary person. Benítez-Rojo blows great gusts of fascinating fictional wind onto the all but forgotten embers of the actual Henriette Faber, and this blazing tale of her adventures as a military surgeon and a husband and about a hundred other fascinating things is both something we want and need to hear."—Laird Hunt, author of Neverhome

 

"As detailed as any work of history and as action filled as any swashbuckler, Woman in Battle Dress is not only Antonio Benítez Rojo's last and most ambitious book, but also his masterpiece. In this graceful English translation of Henriette Faber's autobiography—more than fiction, less than fact—American readers will have access to one of the most engaging novels to come out of Latin America in recent years."—Gustavo Pérez-Firmat, Columbia University

Where There's Love, There's Hate

by Adolfo Bioy Casares and Silvina Ocampo (Melville House, 2013)

"Where There's Love, There's Hate is both genuinely suspenseful mystery fiction and an ingenious pastiche of the genre, the only novel co-written by two towering figures of Latin American literature. Famously friends and collaborators of Jorge Luis Borges, husband and wife Bioy Casares and Ocampo combine their gifts to produce a novel that's captivating, unashamedly erudite and gloriously witty." –Melville House

“[An] unsung jewel of a novella…Bioy Casares and Ocampo save a final subversive wink for their utterly perfect last line: an elegant reminder that, inevitably, reality contains mysteries more unfathomable than any detective plot.” —Words Without Borders

"Silvina Ocampo is one of our best writers." –Jorge Luis Borges

"Bioy Casares has a charm and a sinister wit." –John Updike

 

  • Jessica Powell
  • Jessica Powell