Reading Latin America

If you haven’t yet had the chance to behold Latin America’s literary vistas, you’re in for a treat—albeit a selection of supernatural, beguiling, and downright dark treats. Here are some of our favourite novels, novellas and short stories from Argentina, Brazil, Mexico, the Caribbean, Chile and beyond.

The Hour of the Star, by Clarice Lispector

There’s truly nothing better than a delightfully unreliable and unpleasant narrator, à la Otessa Moshfegh. But this time, it’s metafictional! Our narrator is the tortured and philosophical Rodrigo, who also claims to be the author of this very novella (and yet not at all responsible for the fate of its characters, just so you know. They’re not real anyway, so could you stop asking? There’s nothing he can do about it!)

The Dangers of Smoking in Bed, by Mariana Enriquez

There’s no way you’re ever going to forget this book. The second short story collection to be translated into English from literary horror powerhouse Mariana Enriquez is twice as dark and thrice as brilliant as her first (already a very high bar). For sure, there are elements of the fantastical and the paranormal in most of these stories, but first and foremost the book is true to lived realities in contemporary Argentina. These are succinct, economical stories about obsession, violence and revenge, and certainly not for the faint of heart.

Hurricane Season, by Fernanda Melchor

Uncompromising, bewitching, troubling and strangely beautiful, we were bowled over by Mexican writer Fernanda Melchor’s first novel to be translated into English. A twisted murder mystery that reveals the inner workings of village life in disturbing, psychedelic and unnerving ways.

Sevastopol, by Emilio Fraia

Three brief, beguiling stories from contemporary Brazil, taking inspiration from Tolstoy’s Sevastopol Sketches. Fraia renders his characters in a seamless, almost cinematic prose, taking us on a deep dive into their most candid moments of self-reflection.

Tentacle, by Rita Indiana

A queer, punk, post-apocalyptic novel from the Carribean, featuring time-travel, mystical sea anemones, gender-swapping, art theory and a prophecy to save the world. Unbelievably, this runs under 200 pages.

Elena Knows, by Claudia Pineiro

An agonizingly good novella set over the course of a single day. After Rita is found hanged in the local church, Elena refuses to believe her daughter died of suicide. Hampered by the ebbs and flows of her Parkinson’s disease, Elena embarks on a torturous journey to the other side of Buenos Aires looking for answers. For fans of Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead and Death in Her Hands. “

My Documents, by Alejandro Zambra

Metafictional, melancholic and dryly witty short stories from Chile’s voice of a generation. Alejandro Zambra is a detail-focused, exacting and profound prose writer, and an absolutely essential addition to any Latin American reading list.

Ramifications, by Daniel Saldana Paris

A washed-up, depressed and unemployed writer obsessively relives and rewrites the details of his early childhood: his mother’s disappearance to join the Zapatistas, his own tortured and obsessive internal world, and a cross-country coach journey to the other side of the country in search of answers. Daniel Saldana Paris writes with an impressive attention to detail, creating a near perfect portrayal of a child’s interior life.

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