The Wonders by Elena Medel

Do you like reading translated fiction? The Wonders is the debut novel by Spanish poet Elena Medel, translated by Lizzie Davis and Thomas Bunstead. It covers half a century of the feminist movement in Spain by way of an estranged grandmother and granddaughter.

This novel explores class issues and wealth disparity within feminism, and the jagged nature of socioeconomic mobility. Following these two working class characters throughout their lives, we see how class limits and shapes them as children and how that impacts their adulthood.

The Wonders is a great choice if you enjoy:

  • translated literature, literary fiction, feminist fiction
  • stream-of-thought passages, not needing to know exactly what’s going on (or who’s speaking) at every point in time – there are places where you’re inside a character’s thoughts, and it feels almost surreal until they come back to reality again
  • family drama, especially complicated mother/daughter relationships
  • Spanish history (from the end of Franco’s rule to the 1982 PSOE wins to the 2018 Spanish women’s strike)

“A mesmerizing read. Medel’s prose is hypnotic, it’s hard to believe this is her first novel. I was completely engrossed in this story, in the shadow each generation casts on the one that comes after it, in the tension between caring for oneself and caring for others.”
—Avni Doshi, author of the Booker Prize-shortlisted Burnt Sugar

About the author

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