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Latin American Literature in Translation


By Judy Rosenthal

La Biblioteca has formed a new section called “Latin American Literature in Translation.” It is housed between the English and Spanish collections, near the Recently Arrived bookshelf.

Why read these classic novels? The literary fiction of a country is a window to the culture, the ideas, and even the obsessions of its people. Of course it is better to read them in Spanish, but Americans and Canadians of the 21st century are lucky to have access to excellent translations.

We have all the masterpieces of the novelists I consider the Big Three—Gabriel García Márquez, Juan Rulfo, and Carlos Fuentes. Márquez’ 100 Years of Solitude invented a famous new school, known as magical realism. We have all the fiction of this magisterial writer. Juan Rulfo’s mystical Pedro Páramo breaks down the boundary between the living and the dead, between reality and memory. Finally, Carlos Fuentes considers the myriad ways the United States and Mexico are bound together in The Death of Artemio Cruz—we are joined politically, economically, even spiritually.

If you are more intrigued by modern novelists, we have the books for you. Many of these newer writers are reacting against magical realism, as the writers inspired by the “Crack Manifesto,” who are more inspired by the experimental fiction of Jorge Luis Borges and Julio Cortázar. These writers include Jorge Volpi and Pedro Ángel Palou.

The newest 21st century novelists we have in our collection include many contemporary women writers from Mexico, Argentina, and Chile. Many of them have lived in the US and/or Canada. They write about themes that challenge all the Americas. Check out Alejandro Zambra, Isabella Allende, Valeria Luiselli, Yuri Herrera, Guadalupe Nettel, Juan Pablo Villalobos, Juan Villoro, Patricio Pron, and Roberto Bolaño.

I guarantee you will not be disappointed.


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