Latin America is not only a place of natural wonders; its harsh, unstable politics blend in with beautiful multicultural traditions to produce some of the most compelling writers of all times. Raised in societies deeply marked by colonialism, most Latin American authors were able to see the beauty of a system broken by racism, elitism, and misogyny. They reflected in their books the surreal but marvelous atmosphere that surrounds this region of the world. If you want to learn more about Latin America before adventuring into your next trip with us, we recommend you to read these five books to get inspired for your journey.
This novel captures a debate that has been held for a long time in Latin America: should native populations be saved from or helped by globalization? Nobel Prize winner Mario Vargas Llosa confronts these two postures by immersing us in the storytelling traditions of the Peruvian tribes of the Amazon. He juxtaposes the positive and negative effects that modernization brought to the continent by missionaries, merchants, and anthropologist.
This passionate love story’s protagonist, Tita, has a deep love for cooking, and discovers that, with her recipes, she’s able to affect the emotions of others. Her life develops parallel to the Mexican Revolution, and serves to represent the rebellion of new generations against old traditions. The author, Laura Esquivel, focuses on making a powerful coming-of-age feminist novel that also does great on showing the importance of food in traditional Latin American cultures.
Considered the best work of Nobel prize winner, Gabriel Gracía Marquez, A Hundred Years of Solitude takes place in the fictional town of Macondo. The story follows several generations of the Buendía family to expose the abuse of power and the political violence lived in Colombia. At the same time, the novel is narrated with a touch of humor, and its magical realism elements will make you appreciate the surreal but beautiful uniqueness of Latin America.
Following the life of Oscar, a Dominican geeky teenager who migrated to New Jersey, the novel narrates the history of the Dominican Republic and criticizes the harms that colonialism brought to the Caribbean. The book satirizes the racism and identity crisis faced by diasporas, extending outside the Caribbean to talk about many other places in Latin America. Junot Díaz won the Pulitzer prize in 2008 for this book, which he originally wrote in English while adding in some Spanglish slang throughout his narration.
Narrating the story of Trueba family, Isabel Allende illustrates the political instability of Chile and the contrasting differences between its low and high classes. Through four different generations, the author shows the political culture of Latin America, characterized for the continuous desire for change and the constant fear for the threat of communist dictatorships. The book also highlights the deep bonds inside Latin American families and how not even death can break those ties apart.