Latin America has given us some great writers over the years. Some that come off the top of my head are Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Mario Vargas Llosa, and Octavio Paz—all Nobel Prize-winning writers. We also can’t forget about the iconic Roberto Balano. Latin American literature is incredibly rich, and in this list, we visit some new and old that feature that richness, heritage, history and love.
Fever Dream by Samantha Schweblin
There are books designed to read in one sitting. Fever Dream by Samantha Schweblin is a novel that is impossible to put down once it is picked up. It will haunt you. It will shock you. It will thrill you. That’s all you need to know to enter this book. If you are going to pick this up, I recommend entering blindly. Thank us later.
Brickmakers by Selva Almada
Translated by Annie McDermott
Selva Almada is a writer that knows how to create an unforgettable story. In Brickmakers we are given an incredible examination of toxic masculinity and what it looks like in a machista environment. I was left with my jaw on the floor when I turned the last page.
An Orphan World by Giuseppe Caputo
Translated by: Sophie Hughes, Juana Adcock
This book surprised me in the best way possible. This book is the definition of Queer. There are scenes in this book that had me laughing out loud, crying, and smiling till my cheeks hurt. An Orphan World is a beautiful novel about desire, sex, queerness, and the powerful bond between a father and a son. It is one of those books that stays with you years after finishing it.
Elena Knows by Claudia Pinero
Translated by: Frances Riddle
Recently shortlisted for the Man Booker International Prize, Elana Knows is an intense novel about a mother trying to find the truth behind the death of her daughter. And it may be short, but it is one of the most intense books anyone could every read, and it’s packed with themes and ideas that will have you gagging for more. Claudia Pinero has given us a gift with Elena Knows.
Yesterday by Juan Emar
I love a good, weird, and eye-opening book to mix things up once in a while. Yesterday is one of those books that had me questioning if I was reading the scenes correctly. I won’t say too much because I don’t want to ruin the element of surprise but just know that there is a fight between an emu and a lion that is iconic. I was getting my life. Yesterday by Juan Emar is addicting.
Hole by Jose Revueltas
This is a very short book, yet Hole by Jose Revueltas is one of those stories that keeps you thinking weeks after finishing it. Hole is about three incarcerated men who plan to escape prison. It is a nonstop reading experience like no other. Because it was so short, I read and reread this story a couple of times because of how good it was. A story that I can’t recommend enough.
Empty Houses by Brenda Navarro
Empty Houses is a novel split between two characters. The first character is a woman who has lost her son, and the second is a woman who has stolen someone’s child. I know, this sounds wild and it is. Brenda Navarro takes the reader on a rollercoaster that feels like it will never stop.
Slum Virgin by Gabriela Cabezon Camara
Translated by: Frances Riddle
Gabriela Cabezon Camara has one of the strongest prose in Latin America today. You just want to drown in that luscious writing. In Slum Virgin, we get a story about a journalist who is trying to report on a community of strange and uncanny subjects. The characters she finds are alive and truly unforgettable. The buildup in this novel is one of the best.
Ghosts by Cesar Aira
Translated by: Chris Andrews
How could I describe this strangely written book? I think Cesar Aira has come up with his own style of writing and it is everything. Ghosts is about a lot of things—but it generally centers a family who resides in a haunted construction site. The ghosts in this book are not particularly scary; they feel playful and welcoming, and that is what picks the interests of one of the character’s in this book. The ending is unbelievable.
Tentacle by Rita Indiana
Translated by: Achy Obejas
This is another strange and uncanny novel set in a post-apocalyptic Dominican Republic. Rita Indiana has written a novel that feels out of this world yet within reach. It is a fierce and queer reading experience that I always recommend.
Paradais by Fernanda Melchor
Melchor is unlike any writer you will ever come across. Her writing is unfiltered, hardcore, and horrifying—yet Melchor knows how to get to the core of our humanity. In Paradais, Melchor shows the dangers of toxic masculinity and where it can lead to if it blooms.
The Bitch by Pilar Quintana
This is a book about motherhood, violence and grief. Yuri Herrera says, “The Bitch is a novel of true violence. Artist that she is, Pilar Quintana uncovers wounds we didn’t know we had, shows us their beauty, and then throws a handful of salt into them.”