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Chilean authors provided my first window into the world of Latin American literature, despite the fact that I’d never even been to skinny Chile back then. It’s not really surprising though, given that—along with, say, Mexico and Argentina—Chile has an abundance of authors in English-language translation.
But where to begin? Right here, that’s where, with my pick for five Chilean writers you should know (and read), both in translation and otherwise.
(Please note that this series focuses on authors and essayists. For poets from Chile, check out this post.)
Novelist, essayist, and NYU Creative Writing in Spanish teacher, Lina Meruane was born in Santiago de Chile in 1970 and is perhaps best known for her novel Sangre en el ojo (Seeing Red, in English) which won the Sor Juana Prize in 2012. More recently, her novel Sistema nervioso was translated into English as Nervous System by her regular translator Megan McDowell. She also founded now-defunct Chilean editorial Brutas Escritoras.
Born in Santiago de Chile in 1987, Arelis Uribe is a short story writer and journalist with a degree in Creative Writing from NYU. Her debut short story collection Quiltras was considered one of the best books of the year by the Chilean Ministry of Culture and has been translated into French by Marianne Millon as Les bâtardes. She’s also the write behind Que explote todo, a collection of her opinion columns.
Read my review of Quiltras here.
Considered one of the most accomplished writers of her generation, Nona Fernández is an actress, novelist, and scriptwriter born in Santiago de Chile in 1971. Best known in English-speaking circles for her novels Space Invaders, Chilean Electric, and The Twilight Zone (all translated by Natasha Wimmer), Fernández won a Sor Juana Prize for the latter title in 2017.
Santiago de Chile-born Daniela Catrileo is a poet, writer, and philosophy teacher of Mapuche origin. Although better known for her poetry than her prose, her most recent title is Piñen, a triptych of short stories. Some of Catrileo’s other published works include Guerra florida and Río herido, as well as the collective work Niñas con Palillos. She is also a founding member of the Mapuche feminist collective Rangiñtulewfü.
Born in 1988 in Santiago de Chile, Paulina Flores is a novelist and short story writer whose short story collection Humiliation was translated into English by Megan McDowell, as well as into half a dozen other languages including Japanese. In Spanish, her most recent work—Isla Decepción—is also her novelistic debut and in 2021, she was selected as one of Granta’s Best Young Spanish-Language Novelists.