From September 15 to October 15 it’s celebrated in the US the Hispanic Heritage Month, and in the bookish community we also have the Latinx Book Bingo if anyone would like to participate!
I normally don’t participate on those readathons because honestly I read a lot of Latinx books all year anyway (mostly Brazilian!) but since I wanted to read a few more non-Brazilian Latinx reads this year (I’ve been reading SO many Brazilian books, it’s been such a joy), I thought it would be a good opportunity to pick up Hispanic Latinx books (so, books from Spanish-speaking countries in Latin America). I will not be following any particular rules, these are just some books on my TBR that happened to be Latinx & Hispanic and I think it’s a great time to read them! These are all books in translation, by the way, and a mix of recently published translations and backlisted titles, plus one classic novel. No idea if I’ll be able to read all of them until October 15 but I can try!
Some links with reading recommendations if you’d like to pick something up but don’t know where to start:
Without further ado, my TBR:
Fever Dream by Samanta Schweblin, translated by Megan McDowell and Ruth Sepp
I have actually already started this one because I have been itching to read more from Argentinian author Samantha Schweblin after loving Little Eyes! This is a bit more of a weird, surreal read and I’m only 25% in but I’m really enjoying it so far! She might just become an auto-buy author for me (also I love Megan McDowell, she also translates Mariana Enriquez’ work).
Experience the blazing, surreal sensation of a fever dream…
A young woman named Amanda lies dying in a rural hospital clinic. A boy named David sits beside her. She’s not his mother. He’s not her child. Together, they tell a haunting story of broken souls, toxins, and the power and desperation of family.
Fever Dream is a nightmare come to life, a ghost story for the real world, a love story and a cautionary tale. One of the freshest new voices to come out of the Spanish language and translated into English for the first time, Samanta Schweblin creates an aura of strange psychological menace and otherworldly reality in this absorbing, unsettling, taut novel.
The Luminous Novel by Mario Levrero, translated by Annie McDermott
I received an eARC of this novel, which has all the elements of a great read for me: it’s about a writer trying to write his greatest book yet. I don’t know much more than this, and I want to go into this book without knowing anything else. I’ve never read anything by Mario Levrero, an uruguayan writer, so I’m quite excited.
‘Perhaps the luminous novel is this thing that I started writing today; just now. Maybe these sheets of paper are a warm-up exercise. […] But it’s quite possible that if I go on writing – as I usually do – with no plan; although this time I know very well what I want to say; things will start to take shape; to come together. I can feel the familiar taste of a literary adventure in my throat.
I’ll take that as confirmation; then; and start describing what I think was the beginning of my spiritual awakening – though nobody should expect religious sermons at this point; they’ll come later. It all began with some ruminations prompted by a dog.’
A writer attempts to complete the novel for which he has been awarded a big fat Guggenheim grant; though for a long time he succeeds mainly in procrastinating – getting an electrician to rewire his living room so he can reposition his computer; buying an armchair; or rather; two: ‘In one; you can’t possibly read: it’s uncomfortable and your back ends up crooked and sore. In the other; you can’t possibly relax: the hard backrest means you have to sit up straight and pay attention; which makes it ideal if you want to read.’
Insomniacs; romantics and anyone who’s ever written (or failed to write) will fall in love with this compelling masterpiece told by a true original; with all his infuriating faults; charming wit and intriguing musings.
The Dangers of Smoking in Bed: Stories by Mariana Enríquez, translated by Megan McDowell
I adored Things We Lost in the Fire and found Este é o Mar just okay, but I’ve heard fantastic things about this collection (which has been longlisted for the International Booker Prize this year!) and I’m thrilled to pick it up! I was thinking of reading this more into October, when I normally get in the mood for something a bit more dark and magical.
Following the “propulsive and mesmerizing” ( New York Times Book Review ) Things We Lost in the Fire comes a new collection of singularly unsettling stories, by an Argentine author who has earned comparisons to Shirley Jackson and Jorge Luis Borges.
Mariana Enriquez has been critically lauded for her unconventional and sociopolitical stories of the macabre: populated by unruly teenagers, crooked witches, homeless ghosts, and hungry women, they walk the uneasy line between urban realism and horror. The stories in her next collection are as terrifying as they are socially conscious, and press into being the unspoken — fetish, illness, the female body, the darkness of human history — with unsettling urgency. A woman is sexually obsessed with the human heart; a lost, rotting baby crawls out of a backyard and into a bedroom; a pair of teenage girls can’t let go of their idol; an entire neighborhood is cursed to death by a question of morality they fail to answer correctly.
Written against the backdrop of contemporary Argentina, and with resounding tenderness towards those in pain, in fear, and in limbo, this new collection from one of Argentina’s most exciting writers finds Enriquez at her most sophisticated, and most chilling.
Cockfight by María Fernanda Ampuero, translated by Frances Riddle
This is a short novel that seems like it will be a brutal read. I’ve heard nothing but amazing things about this book! It’s by an Ecuadorian author, and I’m not sure I’ve read anything from Ecuador before, so that’s really exciting.
Named one of the ten best fiction books of 2018 by the New York Times en Español, Cockfight is the debut work by Ecuadorian writer and journalist María Fernanda Ampuero.
In lucid and compelling prose, Ampuero sheds light on the hidden aspects of the home: the grotesque realities of family, coming of age, religion, and class struggle. A family’s maids witness a horrible cycle of abuse, a girl is auctioned off by a gang of criminals, and two sisters find themselves at the mercy of their spiteful brother. With violence masquerading as love, characters spend their lives trapped reenacting their past traumas.
Heralding a brutal and singular new voice, Cockfight explores the power of the home to both create and destroy those within it.
Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel García Márquez, translated by Edith Grossman
A Hundred Years of Solitude is one of my favorite books of all time (and who’s responsible for me looking for more books by Colombian authors in a fill-the-void spur), and I’ve owned a copy of Love in the Time of Cholera (thanks to my husband!) for the longest time, I think it’s time to read it. I’m super excited but also a bit nervous because I don’t see how this can live up to A Hundred Years.
There are novels, like journeys, which you never want to end: this is one of them. One seventh of July at six in the afternoon, a woman of 71 and a man of 78 ascend a gangplank and begin one of the greatest adventures in modern literature. The man is Florentino Ariza, President of the Carribean River Boat Company; the woman is his childhood sweetheart, the recently widowed Fermina Daza. She has earache. He is bald and lame. Their journey up-river, at an age when they can expect ‘nothing more in life’, holds out a shimmering promise: the consummation of an amor interruptus spanning half a century. LOVE IN THE TIME OF CHOLERA is one of the most uplifting romances of our times. An epiphany to late-flowering love, it holds out the subversive promise that you can have what you wish for: you may just have to wait. Set on the Colombian coast in the early part of this century, it is, arguably even more so than ONE HUNDRED YEARS OF SOLITUDE which won him the Nobel Prize, the crowning work of Gabriel Garcia Marquez. ‘My best, ‘ he says of it. ‘The novel that was written from my gut. ‘