Finalist, National Book Awards 2022 for Translated Literature

book cover for Mónica Ojeda, Jawbone
ISBN 9781566896214
Coffee House Press
Mónica Ojeda

Mónica Ojeda is the author of the novels La desfiguración Silva, Nefando, and Mandíbula, as well as the poetry collections El ciclo de las piedras and Historia de la leche. More about this author >

author photo Sarah Booker. (Photo credit: Logan Brackett)
Sarah Booker

Sarah Booker is an educator and literary translator working from Spanish to English. Her translations include Mónica Ojeda’s Jawbone, Gabriela Ponce’s Blood Red, and Cristina Rivera Garza’s New and Selected Stories, Grieving: Dispatches from a Wounded Country, and The Iliac Crest. More about this author >

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Translated from the Spanish by Sarah Booker

From the publisher:

“Was desire something like being possessed by a nightmare?”

Fernanda and Annelise are so close they are practically sisters: a double image, inseparable. So how does Fernanda end up bound on the floor of a deserted cabin, held hostage by one of her teachers and estranged from Annelise?

When Fernanda, Annelise, and their friends from the Delta Bilingual Academy convene after school, Annelise leads them in thrilling but increasingly dangerous rituals to a rhinestoned, Dior-scented, drag-queen god of her own invention. Even more perilous is the secret Annelise and Fernanda share, rooted in a dare in which violence meets love. Meanwhile, their literature teacher Miss Clara, who is obsessed with imitating her dead mother, struggles to preserve her deteriorating sanity. Each day she edges nearer to a total break with reality.

Interweaving pop culture references and horror concepts drawn from Herman Melville, H. P. Lovecraft, and anonymous “creepypastas,” Jawbone is an ominous, multivocal novel that explores the terror inherent in the pure potentiality of adolescence and the fine line between desire and fear.

Judges Citation

This bodily, propulsive narrative re-envisions mainstays of the Latin American novel for a 21st-century feminist sensibility based in Internet creepypastas, true crime, and women’s autonomy. Expertly characterizing her protagonists while providing an engrossing, compelling story, Mónica Ojeda has hewn out her own version of contemporary gothic set in Ecuadorian culture. Sarah Booker’s fluid translation admirably attends to the book’s many complicated voices, situations, and registers.


Idra Novey, reads for Monica Ojeda, and Sarah Booker at the 2022 Finalist Reading