Top 10 Most Remarkable Latin American Authors of All Time
Latin America is a complex region with a conflicted past and a contradictory present. Its culture consistently produces outstanding artists thanks to its unique historical situation. Many Latin American authors have fascinated readers worldwide.
If you’re looking to discover great Latin American authors, you’re in the right place. You’ll learn a brief history of modern Latin American literature and discover 10 of the most remarkable Latin American authors of all time.
The Importance of Literature
“Literature is an interpretation and criticism of life through writing,” according to this essay. That’s exactly the way I understand literature—an interpretation of life by some of the most brilliant minds ever.
Literature not only entertains us, but also guides us on the journey of life. Did you know that bibliotherapy is a thing? It’s a practice that encourages reading for therapeutic effect.
The Boom of Latin American Literature
Learning a language means discovering a new culture. And reading in that new language is the ultimate way to understand that culture. The mixture of cultures in Latin America is fertile soil for the production of amazing artistic expressions.
The world discovered this fact in the 1960s and 70s, when a literary explosion from Latin American authors took the world by storm. “The Boom” put Latin America in the international literary spotlight. If you’ve read Latin American literature, chances are that you know some Boom writers.
Top 10 Latin American Authors
Jorge Luis Borges (1899-1986) – Argentina
Borges was a precursor of the Boom. He’s considered the godfather of Latin American authors and is arguably the 20th century’s most important writer. His literature of mirrors, reflections, and labyrinths is unique and unclassifiable. Even though he was a recognized author in his time, he never won the Nobel Prize in Literature, which says more about the Nobel Foundation than Borges.
Borges once wrote, “I have always imagined that Paradise will be a kind of library.” Fittingly, he went on to become the director of Argentina’s National Library.
Books: Fictions and Labyrinths, The Aleph
Octavio Paz (1914-1998) – Mexico
Octavio Paz was a poet and essayist who expressed the Mexican soul through his writings like nobody before him. He won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1990. His book of essays, The Labyrinth of Solitude, is the deepest exploration of the Mexican identity ever written.
The literary career of Paz “helped to define modern poetry and the Mexican personality,” according to one of his obituaries.
Books: The Labyrinth of Solitude, Alternating Current
Pablo Neruda (1904-1973) – Chile
The “Poet of Love” was born Ricardo Eliecer Neftali Reyes Basoalto in southern Chile. He changed his name to avoid problems with his family, who disapproved of him becoming a poet. Neruda went on to win the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1971 and held several diplomatic posts throughout the world.
Books: Twilight, Twenty Love Poems and a Song of Despair
Roberto Bolaño (1953-2003) – Chile
One of the most famous post-Boom Latin American authors, Bolaño was a Chilean writer who lived in and wrote about Mexico and spent his final years in Spain. Bolaño became a kind of literary rock star as the founder of the infrarrealismo movement.
Books: The Savage Detectives, 2666
Gabriela Mistral (1889-1957) – Chile
Born Lucila Godoy Alcayaga, Gabriela Mistral was the pseudonym of this Chilean poet. She became the first Latin American author to win the Nobel Prize in Literature. According to the Nobel Prize organization, Mistral’s poetry expresses the aspirations of Latin America.
Books: Despair, Tenderness
Gabriel García Márquez (1927-2014) – Colombia
“Many years later, as he faced the firing squad, Colonel Aureliano Buendía was to remember that distant afternoon when his father took him to discover ice.” That’s the opening line of García Márquez most celebrated book, One Hundred Years of Solitude. That line changed his life and Latin American literature forever, and would win him the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1982.
Books: One Hundred Years of Solitude, No One Writes to the Colonel, Love in the Times of Cholera
Julio Cortázar (1914-1984) – Argentina
Cortázar is one of the Boom’s biggest names and widely recognized as one of the greatest Latin American authors of the 20th century. His famous book Rayuela (“Hopscotch”) was the first hypertext novel. It can be read in different orders, in the style of modern films by Quentin Tarantino and Alejandro González Iñárritu.
Books: Hopscotch, Blow-up
Isabel Allende (1942- ) – Chile
Isabel Allende’s godfather, Salvador Allende, was the first socialist president of Chile. He was killed in a the coup d’etat that brought General Augusto Pinochet to power. As a result of the coup, Isabel had to go into exile. This inspired her early works, and she has now sold nearly 70 million books, which have been translated into 35 languages. She’s also a Hollywood favorite, as many films are based on of her books.
Books: The House of the Spirits, Of Love and Shadows, Eva Luna
Mario Vargas Llosa (1936- ) – Peru
Called the “Elder Statesman of Latin American Literature” by The New York Times, Vargas Llosa is the last living member of the Boom authors. He won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 2010. A man of many talents and interests, in 1990 he decided to run for the presidency of Peru but lost in a runoff.
Books: Conversation in the Cathedral, The Green House
Juan Rulfo (1917-1986) – Mexico
No list of Latin American authors could be complete without Juan Rulfo, father of the “Magic Realism” movement. With just two books published, Rulfo opened the floodgates. Many subsequent Latin American writers found inspiration in this movement.
Books: Pedro Páramo, The Burning Plain
Ready to Read in Spanish?
Now that you know about these remarkable Latin American authors, which one are you going to read first? Try to read them in Spanish too!. It will not only be a more challenging experience, but also a more enriching one. Leave a comment about your favorite Latin American authors and start the conversation!
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