Authors in the Latino Community You Probably Haven’t Heard Of … But Should Read

J. L. Ortiz Diaz

Being Latino can be described as many things. We’re multilingual, friendly and we love to party. Our culture is rich and diverse, our food is full of flavor and our grandparents like to hide the sewing tools in cookie containers. That might seem odd to some, but it’s what makes us Latino and proud. Something that isn’t talked about much is the amazing writers we’ve had throughout the years. Yes, we have such masters as Julia de Burgos that most people are aware of, but we also have a very active writing community that spans across nations and love this craft. In this article I plan to give a more detailed look at the amazing writers we have today. Some of these are better known than others but they all share our Latino soul and cultural pride. Here are 6 Latino authors you may not have heard of but need to read as soon as possible. I will try to keep spoilers to a minimum when discussing their works.

1) Eliana Falcon-Dvorsky

We start off with a bit of a cheat. Eliana is a webcomic writer and artist, but her story Cosmic Fish is one of the best stories I have ever had the pleasure of reading. It has such a captivating and pure world, filled with mystery and adventure at every turn. Most impressive to me was the lack of violence in her story, while still developing a menacing nature for some of her characters that spurs purely from their character. She is Puerto Rico born and raised, taking inspiration from the cultural gods of our Taino ancestors for her works, as well as the current political climate of the island. She uses those feelings to create a unique and interesting look into the Puertorricans’ mind and beliefs that I have seen no other author to date touch upon. She is truly ahead of her time.

2) Juan López Bauzá

El resplandor de Luzbella (Spanish Edition)

Juan López Bauzá is our second author, also a Puertorrican, who’s most recent work, Luzbella, has taken us islanders by storm. A very political book to an extent, it recounts the tale of an idealized version of Puerto Rico that has been a very common divide for all Latin America for a very long time. To understand his works, you have to do a bit of research into the current situation Puerto Rico encounters as a colony, but for us who live it daily, this book speaks volumes of the truth many Americans and the rest of the world don’t know about. But this isn’t the only reason to dig into his work; Mr. López Bauzá paints such a vivid and beautiful image with his writing, you will be transported into his world with but the first chapter. His descriptions are detailed enough for you to see what he wants you to see, with just enough room for interpretation on anything he doesn’t explicitly say. A worthy addition to this list.

3) Julio Cortázar

Rayuela (Spanish Edition)

This next entry is very well known to some, and then very obscure to others. Julio Cortázar is an Argentinian author from the 20th century that not only impacted many writers during his time, but to this day keeps influencing us Latino writers with his unique style and characterization methods. He has a plethora of amazing works and his style is very character focused. His descriptions on environments may be lackluster at times but he makes this up by creating memorable people with interesting stories around them, giving the world life around their actions and worldviews. His works are in Spanish, but thankfully there are many translations out there for at least his short stories. One of his most influential works, ‘House Taken Over’, is an excellent example of why this writer makes the top lists on many occasions and what makes his stories so unique. 

4) Gabriel Garcia Marquez

Love in the Time of Cholera (Oprah's Book Club)

Now we talk about Gabriel Garcia Marquez. He’s a very well-known author so you might be asking yourself why he’s on the list, and there’s a simple answer; everyone should know who this man is and read at least one of his collected works. Garcia Marquez has made such an impact with his short stories and novellas in the Latin-American society that most schools have at least one of his stories as required reading at some point before graduation. His works are very grounded and personal. He has a way of fantasizing the realities of life without ever adding a fantastical element that is just impressive and amazing. Even though he is Colombian, he had a way of understanding all Latino cultures in general that was far ahead of its time, and to this day still feels very relevant.  My favorite story by far would have to be ‘The Coronel Doesn’t Have Anyone Who Writes To Him’ as it is a clear example of the talent behind his worldbuilding. If you haven’t read one of his stories yet, now is the time.

5) Nelson Antonio Denis

Nelson Antonio Denis is next on our list for one reason: ‘War Against All Puertorricans’. A New York born Puertorrican with Cuban heritage as well, Mr. Denis made one of the most influential books for Puertorricans in the last century. His well-researched, divisive work brought to light a lifetime of hidden or just forgotten information about the state of colonialism in Puerto Rico. How the nationalist party has been demonized for many years and the real impact they had on the island during their time. Whether you agree or not with his viewpoint, it is impossible to deny the veracity of his words and the impact these have had on all Puertorricans, island-born or not. 

6) Esmeralda Santiago

When I Was Puerto Rican: A Memoir (A Merloyd Lawrence Book)

This Puerto Rico born author has made strides in the Latino writers’ field, very notably for female authors. Her memoirs and novels tell enriching stories you can tell are very personal to this amazing writer. Her best-selling novel ‘When I was Puertorrican’ recounts her tale and brings to light some very real issues with the Puertorrican  colonial situation that, before Nelson Antonio Denis, was known as the best retelling of the situation we Latinos had and to this day is one of the most influential books in our culture.

Read To Understand

These are just some of the talented Latino who are well known to the Latino community but probably haven’t been heard of too much outside our little world. Most of the writers, you’ll notice, talk about the very pressing issues that affect us Latinos in our homeland and give you a better understanding of the community. We come in all colors and accents, many beliefs and nationalities, and yet we all share some unique cultural aspects that we can be proud and loud about. Whether you’ve heard about any of these authors or not, if you ever want to understand us Latino people, I recommend you read some of these works. And like one of our popular sayings “Yo soy Boricua, pa que tu lo sepas” states, we will always be loud, we will always be proud, and we will always be united.

A 28-year-old writer born and raised in Puerto Rico, JL Ortiz Diaz is a self-published author who loves fiction. He has a bachelor’s degree in advertising from the University of Puerto Rico Carolina campus and has worked in customer service for many years of his career. As a fiction writer he has published 2 novellas and a small collection of short stories in the last 5 years. Although Latino and proud, his writing is usually in English and is very reflective of the current situation of the author.