Celebrating Hispanic Heritage month

Al Woodworth on September 15, 2020

Celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month

For Hispanic Heritage Month, we're celebrating Latina writers and the brilliance and beauty of their work. From mysteries and thrillers, to literary road trips, family reunions, and classic love stories these novels are worth readingthis month, and every month.

In the coming weeks, we'll also share our favorite nonfiction, children's books, and cooking books to celebrate Hispanic Heritage month. For now, here's a list of fiction we think you'll love.

Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

Unsettled by a disturbing letter from a newly married cousin, Mexico City socialite Noemí goes to check on her cousin who now lives at the remote estate of High Place. Noemí—who smokes cigarettes, drives a convertible, and knows her mind—discovers that High Place lives in the past: mold runs along the ancient wall paper, the electricity barely works, and the servants don’t speak. Plus the very old master of the house has a thing for eugenics, and Noemí’s cousin is clearly losing her mind. And then Noemí begins to hear voices.… While Mexican Gothic is set in the 1950s, Moreno-Garcia has written this creepy, fabulous read for today’s audience.—Adrian Liang

A Long Petal of the Sea by Isabelle Allende

Written in her native Spanish, Isabelle Allende’s work has been translated into 35 languages and has sold nearly 70 million copies across the globe. Among countless awards and distinguished honors, including the Presidential Medal of Freedom, Allende writes “to understand. What is writing, after all, but an attempt to sort out the confusion of life?” Indeed, her work offers multilayered narratives that illuminate the rich lives and histories of her characters. In her most recent work, A Long Petal of the Sea, Allende charts the lives of a young man and woman as they flee the aftermath of the Spanish Civil War in search of a place to call home. An epic story of love and survival from a legend.—Al Woodworth

The House of Broken Angels by Luis Alberto Urrea

Like a shot through the heart, Luis Alberto Urrea’s The House of Broken Angels introduces readers to a big, cross-generational Mexican-American family living on both sides of the border, who gather for the funeral of their matriarch. It is bursting with vivid characters: you won’t forget ‘Big Angel’, the favored son and the aging patriarch of the book, who has delayed the funeral to the day after his birthday, so his whole family will be sure to come to his party. But it’s not for the reasons you might think. Luis Alberto Urrea is a seasoned writer: the dialogue is effortless, the tone impeccably assured and at times bone dry. He is a master of his craft, which is why he’s won numerous awards for his fiction and was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for his landmark nonfiction, The Devils Highway.—Al Woodworth

Lost Children Archive by Valeria Luiselli

Valeria Luiselli’s Lost Children Archive is a fictionalized account of her own family’s road trip from New York to the U.S.-Mexico borderlands. As a family of four drives across the country to Arizona under the guise of a summer road trip/tracking down a missing girl/pursuing the sounds of the Apacheria, the Central American migration crisis unfolds on the radio, and both the legends and stories of immigrants reverberate in each of the passenger’s minds. Beautiful, devastating, and so visceral that you can actually feel the pain of heartbreak in your stomach. Luiselli is at the height of her powers in this novel, which won numerous literary awards. —Al Woodworth

Afterlife by Julia Alvarez

After 15 years, Julia Alvarez, the internationally bestselling author of In the Time of Butterflies and How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accent, has published a new novel for adults. Afterlife is a gorgeously intimate novel of an immigrant writer who is searching for balance after monumental loss and must decide how far she’ll go for her family. —Al Woodworth

The Book of Unknown Americans by Cristina Henríquez

In alternating chapters, these men and women share stories of how their adopted country has left its mark on them, for better and worse. The close bond that develops between the Rivera and Toro families drives the novel forward, particularly the relationship between their children Mayor and Maribel, as closely held secrets and feelings of guilt, love, hope, and despair are unpacked with warmth and compassion. With her cast of 'unknown Americans,' Henriquez has crafted a novel that is inspiring, tragic, brave, and above all, unforgettable. —Seira Wilson

Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel García Márquez

We had to include at least one classic on this list, and so the honor goes to Gabriel García Márquez's Love in the Time of Cholera, which was instrumental in introducing Latin American literature to a worldwide audience. He was awarded the 1982 Nobel Prize in Literature "for his novels and short stories, in which the fantastic and the realistic are combined in a richly composed world of imagination, reflecting a continent's life and conflicts." Love in the Time of Cholera is a classic love story, and one that might just resonate a little more today... —Al Woodworth

The Sound of Things Falling by Juan Gabriel Vasquez

Describing Vasquez's debut, The Informers, Carlos Fuentes wrote: “What Vásquez offers us, with great narrative skill, is that grey area of human actions and awareness where our capacity to make mistakes, betray, and conceal creates a chain reaction which condemns us to a world without satisfaction." In The Sound of Things Falling, reading about a hippo escaping one of Pablo Escobar's former playgrounds—a derelict zoo—leads a man to revisit a friend’s murder, and the mistakes and betrayals which resulted in the war between Escobar's cartel and the government playing out daily on the streets of Columbia. —Vannessa Cronin

The Body Snatcher by Patricia Melo

Latina mystery writers may be outnumbered by their male counterparts but what they lack in quantity, they more than make up for in popularity. Exhibit A: Brazil's top selling mystery writer, Patricia Melo. In The Body Snatcher, the fateful greed of a man who steals cocaine and a valuable watch from the victim of a small plane crash, sparks a chain of events for which he is not prepared. These include a man-hunt, corruption, blackmail, a Bolivian drug gang, and drug dealing gone sideways. So intricately plotted as to be nausea-inducing (that's a compliment), this sharp thriller will have you wishing for more translations of Melo's work. —Vannessa Cronin

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