If you have yet to dive into Jazmina Barrera’s Cross-Stitch—a young mother’s reflections on youth, the passage of time, and the meaning of female friendship, blending Sally Rooney-esque interpersonal chaos with a clean, graceful prose style—in its original Spanish, then you’re in luck. An English-language version of the novel, translated by Christina MacSweeney, is due out on November 7, making this the perfect time to familiarize yourself with Barrera’s body of work. (No pun intended, despite the fact that one of Barrera’s most powerful works—Linea Nigra, from 2022—is an exploration of childbirth and parenthood that writer Nikki Shaner-Bradford has described as “a study of the embedded life of the writer, one of flesh and weather and thought and sound.”)
Recently, Vogue spoke to Barrera about preparing to see her debut novel out in the world in English, working with other writers to publish a wide range of modern Mexican fiction through the publishing house Ediciones Antílope, and building a relationship with writing as a parent that is “less romantic, and more lustful.” The conversation has been edited and condensed.
Vogue: How are you feeling now, with Cross-Stitch about to come into the world in its English translation?
Jazmina Barrera: Cross-Stitch was first published in Spanish in 2021, and since then it has had the luck of being published and translated in different countries. I’ve had some time getting used to talking about this book, and it has been very interesting how people—mostly women—react to
it. I’ve had many wonderful encounters with those who find in it a space to talk about friendship, embroidery, or feminism; different generations and cultures who relate to it in different ways. Even so, I’m very excited that it’s about to appear in English, and that it’ll be in conversation with many books I truly admire and available in a country where I used to live and where there’s many people I love.
Was there a most common or favorite reaction you got to Linea Nigra?
My favorite one was when people told me that they read passages, or the entire thing, aloud
to their mothers or daughters. As we grow old, we lose the habit of reading together, and I
love that this book brought that back for some people. At the end of Linea Nigra, there’s an entire list of the books I read and loved while writing the book. There are some that I read after that and really loved, like Medea by Christa Wolf, or Las madres no by Katixa Agirre.