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These Are The Latin American Authors You Should Be Reading This Summer


For many years Latin American writers complained of living under the shadow of their predecessors: the heavyweights of magical realism like Gabriel García Márquez, Mario Vargas Llosa or Carlos Fuentes. And Latin American authors are too often absent from suggested reading lists, despite the demographic shift taking place in America.

“They [Latin American writers] have in common a formal audacity, they are very confident in their style and in what they are doing,” Valerie Miles, founder of the Spanish edition of Granta Magazine, told Quartz about this generation of authors. “The ideas about politics are not so obvious in their writing as they were in the writers of the boom: politics becomes something more intimate that comes out from the daily life with the partner, children… not from the state.”

We have have put together a list of Latin American authors, a new generation freed from stylistic ties to the past that you should include in your summer-reading list. We have highlighted books that may not be necessarily the most recent, but those that are translated, edited or easier to find in English. No matter what the must-reads table at your bookstore says: there is life beyond Roberto Bolaño and Junot Díaz.

1. Yuri Herrera (Mexico): His delusional dystopian stories include nonexistent epidemics that unearth violence between families and the government’s most fearsome and Orwellian side. Signs Preceding the End of the World (first edited in 2009 and then again in 2015) is a breathtaking novel that narrates the mission of Makina, a young girl sent by her mother to rescue her brother, whose track was lost in the US. In her way to the border, she faces all kinds of dangers and must challenge the hostile macho-driven environment. Makina’s character encapsulates the Mexican immigrant’s Odyssey toward the north, as Herrera explores the symbolic and psychological dimension that every transition carries. The Transmigration of Bodies, his most recent novel, will be published in English in 2016.

2. Patricio Pron (Argentina): The shadows of the Argentine dictatorship follow this author in the partially autobiographical novel My Fathers’ Ghost Is Climbing in the Rain (2013). The writer comes back home to Argentina to say goodbye to his dying father. There, he finds a folder full of documents that unveils his father’s obsession with a man who’s disappeared. From there, he has to face the secrets and the pain of his family, marked by a recent past of political resistance against a brutal military regime. Pron was included by Granta Magazine in its 2010 list of the 22 best of young Spanish-Language novelists.

3. Daniel Alarcón (Peru): Though he moved from Lima to Alabama when he was 3-years-old, this Peruvian-American author’s voice remains is wholly Latin American. He has appeared both in the New Yorker’s “20 Under 40” list as an American author and the “Bogotá 39” as a Peruvian. His novel Lost City Radio (2007), tells the story of Norma, a host of a popular radio program in a nameless South American country suffering the aftermath of the war. Norma tries to keep alive the memory of those who have disappeared, including her missing husband. At Night We Walk in Circles (2013) follows the struggles of Nelson, an actor who tries to put together the production of a controversial political theater play in another after war unknown country. Alarcón is also the founder and main anchor of the successful podcast Radio Ambulante, which tells endearing tales about Latin America (some episodes are subtitled in English).

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