When you think Latin American literature, names like Gabriel García Márquez, Carlos Fuentes and Mario Vargas Llosa no doubt spring to mind. Yet there have been a host of exciting new literary offerings from the region in recent years, with a new generation of writers exploring new literary techniques and ideas. With that in mind, here’s a guide to the best Latin American offerings for 2018.
The Neighborhood, Mario Vargas Llosa
The only writer on this list who was a part of the original Latin American literary boom of the 1960s and 1970s, the Peruvian Nobel laureate returns with a much-anticipated novel in February. The political crime thriller The Neighborhood is the first of his works to be translated since 2015. The novel explores the seedy dealings of the Peruvian political class during the 1990s. With corrupt President Alberto Fujimori in power, a powerful business couple become embroiled in a blackmail scheme that will expose their own secrets to the world. A pacey indictment of the Peruvian political elite, from a masterful author with considerable inside knowledge – Vargas Llosa himself ran for president against Fujimori.
Released on February 27, 2018
In the Distance with You, Carla Guelfenbein
This award-winning thriller from the UK-based Chilean Carla Guelfenbein follows three people whose lives become intertwined with that of Vera Sigall, an enigmatic, octogenarian author. As they recount their experiences with her, the three narrators reconstruct the author’s past, and in so doing unveil a series of mysteries and discoveries. The powerful central character is closely based on one of Guelfenbein’s literary heroes, the Brazilian writer Clarice Lispector.
Released on June 5, 2018
Fruit of the Drunken Tree, Ingrid Rojas Contreras
Born and raised in Bogotá, Colombia, and now based in San Francisco, Ingrid Rojas Contreras’ Fruit of the Drunken Tree is a powerful thriller, seamlessly blending a coming-of-age tale with a gripping mystery narrative. Set against the backdrop of the spiraling violence of 1990s Colombia, the novel tells the story of a very unlikely friendship between a sheltered young girl and a teenage maid – a relationship that has powerful, dangerous consequences. Inspired by the author’s own life story, Fruit of the Drunken Tree is a fascinating debut novel.
Released on July 31, 2018
Fireflies, Luis Sagasti
Widely regarded as one of Argentina’s greatest living novelists, Luis Sagasti’s extraordinary novel Fireflies looks at an eclectic range of important personalities and weaves a unique narrative that binds their disparate stories into one. Stanley Kubrick, Neil Armstrong, Ludwig Wittgenstein and the Beatles make an appearance, shining luminaries (or fireflies) that light the path of human existence. A great introduction for English speakers to a unique literary mind.
Released on January 15, 2018
Southerly, Jorge Consiglio
Another acclaimed Argentinian author, Jorge Consiglio has an English translation scheduled for release this month. The collection of short stories explores the lives of disparate characters: a colonel on the eve of an important battle, a nurse at a private clinic for the obese, a man re-encountering the past as he renovates the house of his childhood. The central characters and their stories offer a perfect introduction to “the Consiglian logic of story-telling,” in which seemingly non-sequential, unrelated events form a powerful, lasting impression on the reader’s mind.
Released on January 15, 2018
Arid Sky, Emiliano Monge
This dark, sprawling novel is the English language debut of Emiliano Monge, a Mexican writer who is often compared to the US literary superstar Cormac McCarthy. Written in a tone that evokes McCarthy’s unrelenting classic Blood Meridian, the novel tells the story of Germán Alcántara Carnero, a dangerous campesino fighting to survive in rural 20th century Mexico, and also a metaphor for the spiraling violence of contemporary Mexican society. The novel’s opening gambit: “This is the story of a man who, unbeknownst to him, was his century,” is without doubt one for the ages.
Released on June 26, 2018