Join Girls’ Globe on a global book tour of female authors. We’ve visited Sweden already, and we’re ready for our next stop!

Latin America has a rich literary history. Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Pablo Neruda, Jorge Luis Borges, Carlos Fuentes, Roberto Bolaño, Julio Cortazar. However,apart from a few notable exceptions, Latin America’s women authors have gone comparatively without recognition. Those who can quote Neruda’s Veinte Poemas may not have even heard of Ocampo’s Los Nombres.

Yet Latin America is full of decorated women writers who capture the culture of their countries, and the nuances of the human condition, as well as any of the male writers in the Latin American canon. A few (available in English) to start:

Laura Esquivel

“La mera verdad es que la verdad no existe, todo depende del punto de vista.”
“The truth is that the truth doesn’t exist, it’s all a matter of perspective.”

Laura Esquivel is from Mexico City and spent eight years as a teacher. Esquivel’s Like Water for Chocolate captured imaginations for its mix of magical realism and genre cross-over and became a bestseller in the United States and Mexico.

Known for: Como Agua Para Chocolate [Like Water for Chocolate] (1990), Malinche (2006)

Julia Alvarez

“It is a life lived with a centering principle, and mine is this: that I will pay close attention to this world I find myself in.”

Julia Alvarez was born in New York City, but her parents, Dominicans, returned to the Dominican Republic under Rafael Trujillo’s notorious dictatorship. They fled again in the 1960s.

Alvarez began writing in the early seventies, a time with Latino literature was far from mainstream. She made a living teaching high school while writing, and at 41 years old, after twenty odd years of writing behind her, she published her first novel. She lives now in the United States.

Known for: How the García Girls Lost Their Accents (1991), In the Time of the Butterflies (1994).

Gabriela Mistral

“Instrúyase a la mujer; que no hay nada en ella que le haga ser colocada en un lugar más bajo que el del hombre…Que algo más que la virtud le haga acreedora al respeto, a la admiración, al amor. Tendréis en el bello sexo instruido, menos miserables, menos fanáticas y menos mujeres nulas… Que pueda llegar a valerse por sí sola y deje de ser aquella criatura que agoniza y miseria si el padre, el esposo o el hijo no la amparan.”
“Instruct women: there’s nothing in them that relegates them a lower place than men…That something more than virtue makes her worthy of respect, of admiration, of love. Instilling this in the fairer sex will leave them less miserable, less hysterical and less empty…it will let her come to value herself for herself alone, and cease to be that creature which agonizes and suffers should her father, her husband or her son not protect her.”

Mistral, whose real name was Lucila Godoy y Alcayaga, was a Chilean poet. Her career is said to have started when she was a teacher in a village after a relationship which ended when he, a railway worker, took his own life.

Her writing took her from teaching to the Chilean consulate, and actively involved in culture and education in the region. The Universities of Florence and Guatemala awarded her honorary degrees, and taught at the United States at Columbia University, Middlebury College, Vassar College, and at the University of Puerto Rico. She was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1945.

Famous for: Sonetos de la muerte [Sonnets of Death] (1914), Desolación [Despair] (1922), Ternura [Tenderness] (1924).

Look out for the next stop on the Girls’ Globe Book Tour…coming soon! 

Cover photo credit: Brigitte Tohm 

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4 Responses

  1. ¡Me encanta! Thank you for giving the space to Latin American women authors, I’ll add a few in the comments later.

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