We’ll be taking a closer look at some of the best works of fiction by Spanish and Latino authors.
These books are best enjoyed during Hispanic Heritage Month, which occurs every year from September 15th to October 15th.
So, if you’re looking for something to read this month, you’re in luck as we provide you with the best works of Hispanic fiction to release.
The Feast of the Goat is a historical novel and possibly Mario Vargas Llosa’s finest work.
We follow the journey of Urania Cabral, who has returned to the Dominican Republic after spending several decades in the United States.
She confronts the legacy of the country’s brutal dictator Rafael Trujillo.
Throughout the novel, Llosa reconstructs Trujillo’s corrupt reign and assassination through flashbacks and dramatic scenes.
He draws from Cabral’s recollections and the perspectives of over a dozen other historical figures.
While the Trujillo reign has inspired many authors, no one has managed to handle the subject as well as Llosa.
Through his words, he shows the savagery of this single individual spreads outwards, poisoning his immediate collaborators before ultimately debasing an entire country.
Florentino Ariza has waited for the woman of his dreams for over half a century. Still, Fermina Daza forgot about him a long time ago.
Fermina happily settles into married life with a wealthy doctor. Still, when her husband dies, she finds herself besieged by the suitor from her youth.
Marquez made his name with the magical trappings and shifting cast of his epic works, but Love in the Time of Cholera differs.
This novel focuses on a single grand passion presented in stark reality.
His account of a hero who wants to end his fifty years of solitude has been ranked as one of the greatest love novels in recent decades.
Unamuno is one of the leading Spanish intellectuals of the early 20th Century, so, surprisingly, few people read his works today.
While he is best remembered for his 1913 philosophical study, The Tragic Sense of Life, which is a deep and passionate work in an existential vein, we will be looking at his 1920 work, Three Exemplary Novels.
In three short works, he brings the same concerns he had before into the realm of fiction. Miguel de Unamuno is a master of evoking claustrophobic atmospheres with a gothic overtone.
There is a recurring theme of the battle of the sexes, and his flawed characters battle each other and themselves in a small collection of intimate dramas.
In 1913, the American journalist and literary writer Ambrose Bierce traveled to Mexico at the height of the Mexican Revolution but disappeared shortly after.
The Old Gringo is Carlos Fuente’s imagining of what happened in Bierce’s final days. This novel was not only a bestseller but was also adapted into a film after being translated into English.
Fuentes constructs a peculiar, tragic love triangle around the figure of Bierce. The novel includes American school teacher Harriet Winslow and General Tomas Arroyo of the rebel army.
While the rich Faulknerian prose does get a little soupy in some translations, it doesn’t prevent the psychological intensity of this work which makes it so compelling.
The Savage Detectives is a modern-day classic of Latin American literature. It traces the lives and times of two fringe poets, Arturo Belano and Ulises Lima, over almost two decades.
The epic sweep of Bolano’s work is breathtaking as the story filters through the perspective of dozens of narrators and transpires over four continents.
In The Savage Detectives, Bolano’s protagonists move from their literary concerns to petty crime, romance, or narcotics; however, their most unsettling quest is when they seek out a missing poet from the ‘20s.
Jorge Luis Borges was once the king of Latin American fiction and one of the finest modern writers to be denied the Nobel Prize for Literature.
Borges writes richly imaginative fiction, which would help inspire the magical realism of a new generation of South American Authors.
His work established him as one of his day's most distinctive short story stylists.
Evoking a paradoxical blend of fantasy and philosophy, his works are filled with intellectual rigor and child-like play.
Ficciones is only a brief volume, but it is the best way to introduce yourself to Borges’ work.
No Hispanic reading list is complete without the life-affirming classic Don Quixote. This is one of those books you can read repeatedly without exhausting the richness of each page.
After you read Don Quixote, you’ll realize that experimental fiction is not a recent invention.
Miguel de Cervantes played with storytelling conventions, even inserting characters in the latter half of the novel who have read the earlier half.
Don Quixote and Sancho Panza are timeless figures with memorable episodes full of rich implications.
The language and proverbs used have influenced a huge amount of later literature, and it’s a book that we believe everyone should read.
Nowadays, you can find The House on Mango Street on many school reading lists.
It captures the day-to-day life of Esperanza Cordero, a young girl who dreams of leaving her poor Latino neighborhood in Chicago.
The House on Mango Street is a touching tale composed of 44 short chapters; many of them are only a few paragraphs long, so the book can be read in a single setting.
Each chapter is written in a diary entry style, but the language is both musing and poetic. You could even read each chapter as a prose poem.
This is a great entry point for any young readers to get into Latino literature.
Although it is one of Marquez’s lesser-known works, it is undoubtedly one of his finest novels. His more celebrated novels trace events over a large period.
Still, Chronicle of a Death Foretold reconstructs the events of a single day.
The plot follows two enraged brothers who track down and murder the man who they believe violated their sister’s virginity.
In this rich work, Marquez appears to mirror novels in which strange coincidences and a degree of chance save the protagonist.
All events seem to conspire against a happy ending. Still, Marquez manages to construct a beautiful plot in which almost all episodes seem to show a way that the murder can be avoided.
However, the bloodshed is predestined, and the death has already been foretold.
Although Junot Diaz is more known for The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao these days, he first came into the spotlight with Drown, published in 1996.
Drown is a short story collection that has a prose style that shifts from English to Spanish, featuring street talk and high-brow allusions.
Although it has playful language, the stories themselves are filled with a dash of gritty realism.
You’ll find taunting, bullying, broken homes, infidelity, poverty, and violence. However, none of these elements are shown with any degree of self-pity or sentimentality.
Instead, there is a drive to carry on, and Diaz is brilliant at chronicling the immigrant experience in modern America.
Although many books have captured the rich heritage of indigenous peoples of the Americas or have tried to depict the tragedy of European colonialism, Llosa switches to a different angle to relate the story of Saul Zuratas.
Saul Zuratas is a Peruvian of Jewish descent who leaves behind the complexities of his city life to become a member of an Amazonian tribe.
Llolsa uses his writing abilities to showcase a well-crafted narrative that explores the larger issues of ethnicity and our tainted historical legacies.
Finally, we have Marquez’s masterpiece, which was praised for decades after its initial publication. It is possibly the greatest work of any living novelist.
This novel is a 450-page burst of creativity and imagination.
One Hundred Years of Solitude is filled with characters, subplots, interludes, episodes, and off-the-wall tangents. It’s hard to believe that all this can be found in a single novel.
Marquez never gets weighed down by his complex narrative either, and the book remains light, fanciful, and full of vitality.
If you get lost, Marquez supplies a helpful family tree at the front of the book, and in some cases, getting lost is more fun than the final destination.
As Cervantes sets the tone for the Spanish language novel by containing a whole universe between the covers, Marquez does the same thing with One Hundred Years of Solitude.
Whether you’re new to hispanic fiction or not, these books shouldn’t be missed by anyone. If you’d like to get any more recommendations, consider checking out our other articles.