2016 in books: 15 must reads from Latin American and US Latino authors

*Suggestions for the book worms on you list. VL

By Alejandra Oliva, Remezcla (15 minute read)

The last few years have been fantastic for works translated into English from writers all over Latin America. Between Valeria Luiselli, Alejandro Zambra, and the resurgence of Roberto Bolaño, there hasn’t been a better time to find new authors from Latin America. 2016 is no exception. Laia Jufresa, Álvaro Enrigue, and Daniel Saldaña Paris all had big first-time English releases this year after gaining followings abroad.

Not only that, but the ability of small presses to take risks on new authors, the current publishing-industry interest in translation, and the discoverability of rad Latinx poets and writers on Twitter, Tumblr, and the rest of the internet means that we’re in a golden age for finding incredible new writers.

The list below is 15 of the best books published in the U.S. by Latinx writers this year — it includes books in translation (so many books in translation!) Latin-American writers, and a lot of debut authors. A problem inherent in lists like these mean that not every book can be on it — although having too many great Latinx-penned books is not a bad problem to have.

If you didn’t catch these this year, make sure to add them to your reading list.


Umami by Laia Jufresa, trans. Sophie Hughes (OneWorld)

Umami by Laia Jufresa_books_cultureThis book was one of my favorites this year. Set in Mexico City, where Jufresa lives, it focuses on a group of neighbors that all live in houses named after flavors—Sweet, Salty, Sour, Bitter, and, of course, Umami—and is about the loss and light in each of their lives. I cried a bunch of times while reading this book—it’s not shy about emotional gut-punches, but they never feel cheap or hollow.


Juliet Takes a Breath by Gabby Rivera (Riverdale Avenue Books)

Juliet Takes a Breath_books_cultureA sweet, expansive YA novel about growing up queer and Boricua in the Bronx, navigating the waters of white feminism, and, of course, falling in love. As a bonus, Gabby Rivera was just tapped to write the new America Chavez series for Marvel, so we’ll be seeing a lot more of her in 2017!

Read more stories like this in NewsTaco. >> 


Sudden Death by Álvaro Enrigue, trans. Natasha Wimmer (Riverhead)

sudden death_books_cultureI needed an open Wikipedia window to read this book, rife as it is with references and historical figures, but it was so, so worth it. The book takes the form of a 16th century tennis match between poet Francisco de Quevedo and painter Carvaggio, with a supporting cast featuring Cortés, La Malinche, Galileo, and a lot of popes. A truly weird and colorful alt-history that centers the importance of Latinx culture in history.


[Photos courtesy of Remezcla]

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