If you asked me to name some Latin American writers, I’d be struggling beyond three obvious and popular novelists – Gabriel García Márquez, Isabel Allende and Paulo Coelho. At a push I might also remember Jorge Luis Borges, but wouldn’t know too much about him.
OK, OK so you think I’m a Philistine! I have to agree with you on my Latin American writer knowledge, so I thought it about time I looked for other writers I should be reading from this stretch of the world.
In his article “9 Latin American Writers You Should Be Reading in 2014″ Nyki Salinas-Duda makes a strong argument that
Latin American authors tend to be overlooked and he lists nine writers worthy of our attention (see below). An interesting entry is the revolutionary Ernesto “Che” Guevara who was also an author.
Another recommendation comes from Daniel Peña, a Lecturer in the Department of English at Cornell University where he teaches creative writing and composition. He specifically recommends “Prayers for the Stolen” by Jennifer Clement. You may well be thinking that an author with the name Jennifer Clement is not from Latin America. True, she was born in the States but was brought up in Mexico where she now lives and writes, so an Honorary Latin American at least. Her story is based in Mexico so a further link to Latin America. The novel is about how women cope with very bad men when their male folk have gone to the States looking for work.
In the Latin American Literature section of the Good Reads website, a number of authors and titles are listed including the three I could name without too much thought – Gabriel García Márquez, Isabel Allende and Paulo Coelho – two of which I have read, sorry Isabel. However, new names to me are listed from the first page of 17 pages of recommendations! So perhaps these deserve to go on my “to read” list.
So far, by my adding up, there are 26 writers that have been recommended one way or another. Given the number of books already in my “to read” pile, I think that’s enough for now.
In fact I could do with your help on this. Have you read any of the authors’ work? If so, which would you suggest I tackle first?
With the exception of Jennifer Clement, I have only mentioned recommended authors and not specific works, so here’s a list of the Top 20 Latin American Books to Read Before You Die. Here, apart from the authors already mentioned, we additionally find Jose Marti, Reinaldo Arenas and Angeles Mastretta (now the count is 29 authors)!
Top book to read in the Latin American writers’ list is my first recommendation below, “One Hundred Years of Solitude” and our book for discussion this month, along with another personal recommendation.
Gabriel García Márquez – “One Hundred Years of Solitude”: The story of seven generations of the Buendía Family in the town of Macondo, founded by José Arcadio Buendía. This is classed by many as Garcia’s best work and, in my view, well worth a read.
Paulo Coelho – “The Devil and Miss Prym”: The story of how people behave when there is a great prize to be had, but only achievable by disobeying the rules. A great insight into human behaviour.
To finish, here’s the list of top Latin American authors based on the recommendations given by Nyki Salinas-Duda, Daniel Peña and GoodReads.
Recommendations by: Nyki Salinas-Duda
Recommendations by Daniel Peña:
Recommendations by Good Reads:
OK, please help. Who should I read first? Give me your thoughts.