This is a guest post from Isa, an author at Culture Coverage.
Hope you enjoy!
5 Works of Alternative Latino Fiction That Will Change Your Life
The secret to great American writing has always been the niche angle—Faulkner covered Southern Gothic, Hemingway had a firm hold on the Lost Generation, and Morrison is the architect of African American realism.
And when it comes to great Latino literature, it’s all in the voices of those writers who deliver visceral stories that stick with you. From Diaz to Delgado, these five novels and short story collections will open worlds familiar and yet unknown to create fully realized characters and traditions that tell the true stories of Latino culture.
1. This Is How You Lose Her, by Junot Diaz
Diaz is no stranger to the finer points of great fiction; as the novelist behind Drown and The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, and well as the editor of The Boston Review, Diaz’s stories have long been top shelf material. When it comes to This Is How You Lose Her, the plot and direction of the short story collection is all tied to one of Diaz’s favorite characters, Yunior, who is a serial cheater of Dominican descent and is constantly at odds with his cultural tendencies and habits. Throughout the intertwined short stories, it becomes clear that the pull between his culture and the American social system is the main antagonist here—and one that provides ample inspiration for incredible words.
US Readers can grab one of the shorts—A Cheater’s Guide To Love—from the The New Yorker where it was published in 2012 (international readers, you can get around geoblocking by changing your IP address with a VPN like ExpressVPN before accessing).
2. In The Time of the Butterflies, by Julia Alvarez
Written during the Trujillo administration, In The Time of the Butterflies follows a family of sisters, the Mirabels, as they seek to uncover the truth and undermine the regime of the dictator. As word spreads about Trujillo's murder list, the girls are persecuted, arrested, and imprisoned for their attempts, all the while their family is targeted by the Military Intelligence Service. After one fateful trip to visit their husbands in prison, Trujillo plans an attack that could change their lives forever. For lovers of historical fiction that expose deep set truth, this read will open your eyes to the plight of revolutionaries all over the world.
Big fans of this book can also check out the made for TV movie, starring Salma Hayek and Marc Antony, of the same name.
3. Marielitos, Balseros and Other Exiles, by Cecilia Rodriguez Milanes
A deep look at Cuban-Americans, most of whom live in Florida, Marielitos, Balseros and Other Exiles by Cecilia Rodriguez Milanes is a short story collection that delves into the aftermath of Cuban-American immigrants during the 1980 Mariel boat lift (marielitos), the rafters who made it to the mainland (balseros) in the years after and everyone else in between. Revealing the economic, social and identity struggles of this particular group, Milanes work to expose the discrimination, hardships and real life character of this resilient community of people as they escape Castro's Cuba for the United States.
4. The Boy Kings of Texas, by Domingo Martinez
A memoir from author Domingo Martinez, The Boy Kings of Texas goes back to his days growing up in a border town in the United States. From Brownsville, Texas, just across from Matamoros, Mexico, Martinez charts a story of learning to master his machismo, that of the machismo in his house, as well as the psyche that dominates his entire community. To find his own path, the tortured protagonist must decide between the competing worlds inside his head to become the man he wants to be.
5. Ditch Water, by Joseph Delgado
Set in a small town in Arizona mixed with Mexican and Native American roots, readers will find that the people of the town in Ditch Water are perfectly capable of maintaining their own tradition lifestyle outside of the mainstream American Way. While the working class citizens coexist, it can be said that they never mesh well, except when it comes to the vast desert landscape that pulls them both together. Full of instrumental, visceral poetry and a strong sense of identity, Ditch Water is a story that will remind you how minor our differences actually are.
Whether you're in the mood for love or a heart-wrenching tale of revolutionary dreams, grab one of these books for a renewed look at what Latino and Latino American writing has to offer a dedicated reader. Happy reading!
About Me: Isa is an entertainment and technology writers with a love for books and movies. When she’s not writing about books or movies, she’s either wandering through old stacks or parked on the couch for a good film.
You can check out more of her writing here.