Julia Otxoa


Christmas Dinner

translated from the Spanish by Brenae Newhard, Allison Stickley, & Mallory Truckenmiller


Leaping up from the table with a cup in his hand, Uncle Jorge announced with a boozy voice:

“It is time to resume the trial and pronounce a sentence!”

My parents stopped eating and pushed their plates towards the center of the table; my little brother wiped his mouth with a napkin. Only my grandmother, indifferent, continued eating her roasted chicken.

The loud carols from the street came in through the tall picture windows and mixed with the voices of the defendant and the prosecutor. It was impossible to understand anything. The sentence was barely audible due to the explosion of the traditional Christmas fireworks.

However, the dinner guests were not at all surprised when, in fulfilment of the law, the head of our little brother rolled across the table splashing against our plates and cups, finally coming to a stop, trapped between a bottle of champagne and the bowl of prawns.





Cena de Navidad


El tío Jorge, levantándose de un salto de la mesa con una copa en la mano, anunció con voz aguardentosa:

—¡Es hora de proseguir el juicio y dictar sentencia!

Mis padres dejaron de comer y apartaron un poco sus platos hacia el centro de la mesa, mi hermano pequeño se limpió la boca con servilleta. Únicamente mi abuela, indiferente, siguió comiendo el pollo asado.

La música de la calle entraba con fuerza por los altos ventanales y los villancicos se mezclaron con las voces del reo y el fiscal. Era imposible entenderse. Finalmente, la sentencia apenas fue audible dbido al estallido de los cohetes tradicionales de Navidad.

Sin embargo, no hubo asombro en los ojos de los comensales cuando, en cumplimento de la ley, la cabeza de nuestro hermano pequeño rodó per la mesa salpicando nuestras platos y copas, quedándose finalmente atrapada entre una botella de champán y la fuented de los langostinos.



Julia Otxoa, a poet and storyteller, works with visual poetry, photography, and the visual arts. Her writing, with over thirty published titles in poetry, fiction, and children’s fiction, has been translated into multiple languages and is included in several anthologies of poetry, visual poetry, and short stories in Spain and the Americas. Some of her more recent titles include Taxus baccata, La lentitud de la luz, Un extraño envío, Un lugar en el parque, Escena de familia con fantasma, Jardín de arena, and her most recent collection of short stories Confesiones de una mosca.

Brenae Newhard received her BA in comparative literature from Purdue University and is continuing her studies as a graduate student in the University of Iowa’s literary translation MFA program. Her love of literature stems from her childhood and an 18-month period living in Puebla, Mexico has encouraged her enthusiasm for translation and learning other languages.

Allison Stickley earned BAs in Political Science and English from the University of Iowa before spending several years in Chile and Peru where her love of language and literature eventually intersected with translation. Allison is currently an MFA student in literary translation at the University of Iowa.

Mallory Truckenmiller Saylor is an MFA Iowa Arts Fellow in literary translation at the University of Iowa and received her BA in English from Saint Vincent College. Specializing in Gender, Women, and Sexuality Studies, Mallory primarily translates Latin American and Iberian women writers with a focus on the role of gender in literature and translation.

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