The South Americans have a great literary tradition, with an interesting record of styles and influences that have helped the world to get to know more about their very unique cosmology. Written primarily in Spanish and Portuguese, they probably possess one of the most diverse horizons there is, drinking from Spanish, African, Indigenous and Caribbean references. As their culture, Latin American literature is vibrant, socially-aware, complex and varied, and a lot of its classics have been translated to English, so you might want to put your English classics down for a while and grab one of these books.

Carmen Boullosa

The first one on our list is actually a contemporary Mexican writer, whose fiction and poetry deal with women’s social, gender and political roles on Latin America, as well as social injustices and sexuality. She follows a great path of South American magic realism both on her prose and her poetry, and even though she doesn’t have a poetry book of her own, many of her work has been anthologized on other collections. If you wanna take a look at one of her novels you could start with Leaving Tabasco, the story of a young girl growing up among magical women.

Alfonsina Storni

Even though she was born in Switzerland, Alfonsina Storni grew up and spent her adult life between Argentina and Uruguay. Her feminist work and her search for feminine emancipation through erotism and bodies gave her the title of one of the most important exponents of modernist poetry in Latin America. If you wanna take a look at her work, you could start with a selection of her poems translated by Marion Freeman, Mary Crow, Jim Normington, and Kay Short.

Gabriela Mistral

She was the first Nobel Prize of Literature of Latin America, and, by date, the only woman on the region that has received it. The Chilean writer from the early 20th century was widely known for being teacher of the famous Pablo Neruda, but her biggest accomplishments were entirely made on her own career. Lucila Godoy y Alcayaga was her true name and has been considered the greatest Chilean writer of all times, being featured on national banknotes. She wrote about her avocation over rights for women, her experiences over sexuality and motherhood and the homogenization of North America, focusing on gender issues. A bilingual collection of her book “Las Mujeres Locas” called “Madwomen” was translated by Randall Couch and could be the next book you read.

Norah Lange

The male dominated avant garde scene of the 1920s and 1930s of Argentina had their queen: Norah Lange was one of the first recognized poets of the country to prove the misogynistic critiques wrong. Sadly, is not easy to find English translations of her work, but if you wanna pull your Spanish skills to the yard, La Calle de la Tarde (The Street in the Evening) and Los Días y las Noches (Days and Nights) is the way to go.