Good Minds Suggest—Daniel Alarcón's Favorite Books by Young Latin American Authors

Posted by Goodreads on November 5, 2013
Daniel Alarcón At just 36 years old, San Francisco-based, Peruvian-born author Daniel Alarcón has already cultivated a stellar reputation among literary insiders, with a Guggenheim Fellowship, a Lannan Fellowship, and inclusion on "best of" lists by Granta and the New Yorker. That reputation was built on just two books—his debut novel, Lost City Radio (2007), and a collection of short stories, War by Candlelight. His second novel, At Night We Walk in Circles, could be the one that brings the author a wider, mainstream audience. Set in an unnamed South American country, this highbrow suspense story follows a nascent actor at loose ends who lands a starring role in a production of a controversial political play, touring across a land still marked by the recent civil war. Alarcón's narration of the way things fall apart is mesmerizing and thrilling. Here he recommends equally compelling works by five of his contemporaries.

Bonsaï by Alejandro Zambra (Chile)
"This absolute pearl of a novel was published by Melville House last year, and it's very close to my heart. It's beguiling and deceptively simple, a portrait of a couple falling into—and then failing at—love. There's humor and realism here, and not a hint of sentimentality. So here's the reason the publication of Alejandro's first novel means so much to me: Back in 2007, I gave it to a friend, the novelist Carolina de Robertis, who became so enamored of it, she decided to translate it."


Natural Histories by Guadalupe Nettel (Mexico)
"I'm so thrilled to see that Guadalupe's wonderful new collection will soon be published in English. Natural Histories was extremely well received in Latin America and Spain (where it won the Ribero del Duero Short Story Prize) and builds on the fine work that Guadalupe has done over the years. She is a careful, lucid writer, a wry observer of families and couples and childhood. In her finest work there's a keen intelligence, a sense of humor, and an acuity of observation that can just take your breath away."


"Birds in the Mouth" by Samanta Schweblin (Argentina)
"Though not much of Samanta's work is available in English, I'm guessing (and hoping) that this is just temporary. She has a unique, inventive voice, and her stories have this ability to veer off into strange and unexpected territories with sublime grace. I admire and envy this gift. "Birds in the Mouth" is the title story of her excellent second collection, and it's a good introduction to her work, available as an ebook single through PEN America's Recommended Reading Series. You'll want more."


Red April by Santiago Roncagliolo (Peru)
"Santiago told me in 2006 that he wanted to write a thriller about the war in Peru. "You know, so people will actually want to read it," he said. He did just that, and it was a huge success, winning the prestigious Alfaguara Novel Prize in 2007. Red April was perhaps the first blockbuster novel to take on the difficult, contentious, terrifying Peruvian war. It does so with such verve, such energy, that you won't soon forget it. Santiago is one of those writers who make everything look easy. And as a bonus: Edith Grossman translates, so you know it sings. "



Trabajos del Reino by Yuri Herrera (Mexico)
"It's an absolute crime that this novel hasn't yet been published in English. Yuri is perhaps the writer of my generation I most admire, and this novel is simply perfect. Yuri reinvents language on every page, creating an imperial allegory to tell the story of The Narco, the hangers-on that orbit him, and the violence that is so central to that culture. The fact that the title itself is as powerful and perfect as it is untranslatable probably begins to explain why Yuri's work still isn't available in English. Publishers take note: Make it happen."


Vote for your own favorites on Listopia: Latina/Latino Fiction



Comments Showing 1-3 of 3 (3 new)

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message 1: by Erika (new)

Erika B Thanks for the recommendations!


message 2: by Janet (new)

Janet Thanks for the recommendations, I am always trying to find good reads, by foreign authors which have been translated into English.


message 3: by Erudito (new)

Erudito Very helpful list. I'm sure you left a lot of choices out for brevity's sake, but I would add to this list the novels and short stories of Argentine author, Betina González.


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