Coffee House Press translator Lizzie Davis shortlisted for the 2021 PEN Translation Prize!
Lizzie Davis's translation of Ornamental by Juan Cárdenas has been shortlisted for the 2021 PEN Translation Prize.
In Ornamental, a doctor recruits volunteers for the trial of a new recreational drug that exclusively affects women. Among them is “number 4,” who becomes emotionally involved with first the scientist, then his wife, a well-known visual artist in the midst of a creative crisis. The scientist is oblivious to the atrocities his new drug will bring to the city; his wife is oblivious to the superfluousness of the objects she has committed her life to exhibiting in galleries and museums. Number 4’s presence pierces the couple’s complacency, gradually undoing the many certainties they’ve accumulated in their lives of ease.
The winner of the PEN Translation Prize will be announced at the virtual celebration on March 8th, 2021.
Praise for Ornamental“With pitch-black comedy, Ornamental, nimbly translated by Lizzie Davis, channels the ways that egomaniacs in science and art—in any field—rise to the top, up the pyramid of capitalism. . . . [T]he rhythm of Cárdenas’s writing compels and reassures, as if driven by the very humanity the lab has helped suppress.” —Nathan Scott MacNamara, New York Times
“[A] work of subtlety and restraint. . . . What makes Ornamental so deeply affecting, however, is not that its pages come together to form a beautiful work of exterior art—though it does—but its ability to cast unease on our interior worlds. . . . Brilliantly executed and cleverly translated, Ornamental leaves us with a fresh understanding of the creation of art and the nature of meaning-making.” —Dashiel Carrera, Los Angeles Review of Books
Lizzie Davis is a translator from Spanish to English and editor at Coffee House Press. Her recent projects include works by Pilar Fraile Amador, Daniela Tarazona, and Elena Medel, and her co-translation of Medel's Las maravillas with Thomas Bunstead is forthcoming from Pushkin Press. She has received fellowships from the Omi International Arts Center and the Breadloaf Translators' Conference in support of her translations.
Juan Cárdenas (1978) is a Colombian art critic, curator, translator, and author of the novels Zumbido (451 Editores, 2010; Periférica, 2017), Los estratos (Periférica, 2013), Ornamento (Periférica, 2015), Tú y yo, una novelita rusa (Cajón de sastre, 2016) and El diablo de las provincias (Periférica, 2017). He is also the author of the short story collection Carreras delictivas (451 Editores, 2008). He has translated the works of such writers as William Faulkner, Thomas Wolfe, Gordon Lish, David Ohle, J. M. Machado de Assis, and Eça de Queirós. In 2014, his novel Los estratos received the Otras Voces Otros Ámbitos Prize. In May 2017, he was named one of the thirty-nine best Latin American writers under the age of thirty-nine by the Hay Festival in Bogotá. Cárdenas currently coordinates the masters program in creative writing at the Caro y Cuervo Institute in Bogotá, where he works as a professor and researcher.
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