2016 was quite a year for publishers and readers. While one can read the countless best of lists to look for books they might have missed, why not diversify and take a look at 8 great books published in 2016 that were written by Latino authors. While some of these books were written prior to 2016, they were recently translated into English , and still retain a quality that fits in with current literature. These books show a different part of the Americas, and yet all have a quality that is unencumbered when relating to those of us in North America. The emotions and plots transcend place and time and make us widen our scope of view. Without further waiting, here are the eight great works:
1. Sudden Death by Álvaro Enrigue, translated by Natasha Wimmer
Sudden Death was on many end of the year lists, and it is no wonder why. Wimmer, who also translated many works of Chilean author Roberto Bolaño, seamlessly translated Enrigue’s philosophical, post-modern story that begins with a tennis match between a painter and a poet.
2. Lay Your Sleeping Head by Michael Nava
Attorney and author Michael Nava re-imagines his first book, The Little Death, which is in turn about a character struggling to get his alcoholism under control, while fighting on the side of social justice.
3. Umami by Laia Jufresa, translated by Sophie Hughes
With a story that revolves around a housing complex in a Mexico City courtyard, Jufresa uses each of the five tastes (known as Umami) to set the tone for each of the five stories. Building upon grief and community, Jufresa captures the essence of people dealing with hard situations, both on their own and together.
4. How to Travel Without Seeing: Dispatches from the New Latin America by Andrés Neuman, translated by Jeffrey Lawrence
Neuman writes with a quality that is unmatched. In his newest book, he writes about traveling, though to be more specific, he writes of national identity, and how this coexists in a world of changing technology and globalization. He also writes of the seemingly uninteresting places we end up when we are traveling, and how this relates to who we are as a people.
5. Burn Baby Burn by Meg Medina
Though classified under young adult literature, this book should be widely read by all. It is a love letter to New York from the 1970s, and comes from the voices of the women that lived through it. It is a coming of age story that follows Nora Lopez as she creates her own identity in the midst of all the uncontrollable world events happening around her.
6. The Road to Llorona Park by Christopher Carmona
This debut book is a collection of stories that revolve around the stretch of borderland from El Paso to Albuquerque. Carmona brings a new voice to the issues that surround the border, immigration, identity, and a mix of culture. With skill and wit, Carmona is able to help clarify the world that exists at the border.
7. Ghost Girl in the Corner by Daniel José Older
Older encompassses strong suspense and intrigue in this book about a missing Brooklyn girl. Who else will find her but two queer female people of color from Brooklyn, whom recognize that no one else will help to save this girl. Poignant and political, Older writes an intense story about people often pushed aside in this world.
8. Only the Road/ Solo el Camino: Eight Decades of Cuban Poetry by Margaret Randall, editor and translator
This bilingual anthology covers 80 years of Cuban poetry, and includes the voices of poets from varying races, gender, and sexual identities. This collection serves as a rich historical text that defines what Cuba was, and what Cuba has become. Only the Road is an interesting overview of the multiple voices of Cuban writers and only makes you want to further the island and its people further.
What other books written by Latino authors would you recommend?
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Featured image via Rebecca Crown Library
h/t NBC News