Latin America is a treasure trove of literary genius, with its various countries chucking out Nobel prizes almost at whim. While a few champions of Latin American literature became its pioneers in the world literature scene, there are some hidden gems that operate in a cultural context only. Here’s a list of our favourite 10 books from Latin America that will blow your mind.
10 Books From Latin America That Will Blow Your Mind:
- Of Love and Other Demons by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
- Cobra by Severo Sarduy
- Fictions by Jorge Luis Borges
- The Alienist and Other Stories by Machado de Assis
- A Little Lumpen Novelita by Roberto Bolano
- Hopscotch by Julio Cortazar
- The Hour of the Star by Clarice Lispector
- The House of Spirits by Isabel Allende
- Dona Barbara by Romulo Gallegos
- The Green House by Mario Vargas Llosa
Of Love and Other Demons by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
Marquez’s 100 Years of Solitude may have won him the Nobel but his other books are also worth exploring. In this story of social isolation, a young girl gets bitten by a rabid dog. The absence of illness symptoms lead the villagers to believe she is possessed by the devil and admit her into a prison-cum-mental hospital. Here, she falls in love with a priest in charge of exorcising her and meets a tragic end.
Cobra by Severo Sarduy
One of the lesser known Latin American writers but still a prestigious name in Cuba, Sarduy is famous for his experimental fiction. In this stream-of-consciousness book set in a transvestite theatre, he reaches the height of his literary prowess.
Fictions by Jorge Luis Borges
In this weirdly fantastic, extremely lyrical and resplendent with Latino culture collection of short stories, Borges is at his very best. These stories revolve around the themes of labyrinths, existentialism, appearance versus reality, mirrors, libraries, dreams and religions. In this weird mix of fantasy and philosophy, an entirely new genre emerges.
The Alienist and Other Stories by Machado de Assis
This is a collection of short stories from the Brazilian master of fiction, Machado de Assis. Capturing the splendour of 19th century Brazil, these stories take readers on a rollercoaster journey of intrigue. Glistening with satire and irony, these stories about psychologists, elitists, slaves and more are definitely worth reading.
A Little Lumpen Novelita by Roberto Bolano
This story follows Bianca, an orphaned girl living in Rome whose brother brings home a couple of criminals. As the four of them begin to plot a crime, Bianca realizes just how one changes with life. With terse, short chapters and beautifully lyrical prose, this one’s a masterpiece from the Chilean in origin but vagabond at heart Machado de Assis.
Hopscotch by Julio Cortazar
This book about an Argentinian author by an Argentinian author is the epitome of wonderful prose. Horacio’s son dies and mistress disappears, forcing him out of his life of hedonism and decadence. He works by turns as a salesman, circus keeper for a cat and attendant at a mental asylum – an array of experiences that change his life.
The Hour of the Star by Clarice Lispector
This is Brazilian author Clarice Lispector’s final novel and perhaps her magnum opus. It follows Macabea, a woman who is ugly, poor and unloved. The narrator recoils from her but also fascinated by her inner life. Full of spicy irony, this book is definitely one to have on the shelf.
The House of Spirits by Isabel Allende
Almost reminiscent of 100 Years of Solitude, this book follows generations of Trueba family. They live in a house inhabited by spirits. From the patriarch Eruba to a clairvoyant Clara, a their daughter Blanca and her forbidden love Esteban, we journey through the history of a family and of Chile.
Dona Barbara by Romulo Gallegos
Against the steamy llanos of Venezuela, Gallegos’s story unfolds, taking us on a journey through the lives of Dona Barbara and Santos Luzardo. Santos returns to his hometown from abroad, only to find that his father’s ranch has been taken over by a manipulative Dona Barbara.
The Green House by Mario Vargas Llosa
In this book by Peruvian Nobel laureate Llosa, we follow a host of characters in lively, exotic locales. It follows Don Anselmo, who founds a brothel called The Green House between the jungle and the desert, setting into play a series of events that beguile the reader.
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10 Books From Latin America That Will Blow Your Mind