By Sylvia Aguilar-Zéleny
Translated by J.D. Pluecker
Trash interweaves the voices of three women with lived connections to the municipal garbage dump of Ciudad Juárez, Mexico.
Publication Date: March 21, 2023
Aguilar Zéleny's Trash shows the complexities of survival and joy, love and violence for three women: a teenager abandoned by her guardian at the dump, a scientist doing research on the residents of the dump, and a transwoman living nearby who is the matriarch of a group of sex workers.
Each one of the characters navigates family, abandonment, power, jealousy, greed, and multiple taboos around sexuality and gender violence. Their stories are linked by geography and by ideas of waste and abandonment.
As Aguilar Zéleny explores these territories in her book, she asks crucial questions: who is seen as disposable and why? How do women find their own means of survival and joy in the midst of a perilous sociopolitical context? What does it mean to live a life in a time of austerity and extreme violence? Trash is a critical intervention in Mexican literature.
In Mexico, Aguilar Zéleny has published four short-story collections, Gente Menuda (Voces del Desierto, 1999), No son gente como uno (Premio del Libro Sonorense, 2003), Nenitas (Premio Ciudad de la Paz, 2013), and Señorita Ansiedad y Otras Manías (Premio Narrativas Emergentes, 2014). She is also the author of four novels: Una no habla de esto (2007), Todo Esto Es Yo (Premio Nacional de Novela Tamaulipas, 2015), Basura (Nitro-Press, 2018) and El Libro de Aisha, (Random House, 2021). Her work was chosen by theatre director Josafat A. Rodriguez who adapted her book Nenitas into a series of monologues with elder residents of Mexico City. This play has toured throughout Mexico in cities such as Monterrey, Merida, La Paz, Ciudad Juárez, and Mexico City. Aguilar Zéleny’s short-story “Morder la vida toda” was adapted into a short-film that was selected for viewing in various film festivals in Mexico.
She is also the author of The Everything I Have Lost (Cinco Puntos Press, 2020), which is a re-writing of her book Todo Esto Es Yo in English. Her work has been included in anthologies in México, the United States, Australia, Peru, and South Korea. She has also given conferences and participated in various panels addressing the work of women writers of Latin America, as well as panels on teaching bilingual creative writing and/or teaching fiction to first or second generation students.
JD Pluecker has translated numerous books from the Spanish, including Gore Capitalism (Semiotext(e), 2018), Antígona González (Les Figues Press, 2016), and Writing with Caca by Luis Felipe Fabre (Green Lantern Press, 2021). Their book of poetry and image, Ford Over, was released in 2016 from Noemi Press. JD is a recipient of the Andy Warhol Foundation Arts Writing Grant and has exhibited work at Blaffer Art Museum, the Hammer Museum, Project Row Houses, and more.
“Sylvia Aguilar Zéleny has constructed a novel that impregnates itself into the skin and the nose: Garbage. Not infrequently, I was submerged into its pages and suddenly felt that something around me smelled awful. And it’s the truth: something smells awful in this country." —Óscar Alarcón, El Popular
"The masterful way that Sylvia Aguilar Zéleny develops the characters is evidence that the author has a high level of narrative power." —Raul Picazo, Crash
"Zéleny’s narrative is whole and cinematic, yet fragmented across time and space, inhabiting different bodies, projecting different voices, as kaleidoscopically pieced-together as an assortment of any finds you’d dig out of a trash can. We are presented with the multiplicities women are so often conscripted to embody. . . JD Pluecker’s translation cuts straight into the truth nestling on the bone of the issue, making use of the skill they’ve gained through their previous work translating similarly no-nonsense queer, justice and non-normative poetics.” —Fairuza Hanun, Asymptote Journal
"A critical intervention in Mexican literature and ably translated into English for an American readership by J. D. Pluecker, 'Trash' showcases author Sylvia Aguilar Zeleny genuine flair for an eloquently impressive and narrative driven storytelling style that fully engages her readers from first page to last." —Midwest Book Review