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Cuba’s literary output—whether poetry, fiction, or non-fiction by writers such as Nancy Morejón and José Martí—has contributed so much to the wider world of Latin American literature over the decades, and Cuban writers in exile abroad have also become important voices of Cuban literature.
But if you want to learn more about present-day Cuban authors, here are my picks of just five of the most interesting contemporary Cuban writers you should know (and read) right now.
(Please note that this series focuses on authors and essayists. For poets from Cuba, check out this post.)
Born in Havana in 1970, Wendy Guerra is an actress-turned-novelist and poet whose first work of fiction—Todos se van or Everyone Leaves—was a critical success. Her other novels include Nunca fui primera dama (I Was Never The First Lady), Negra, and Revolution Sunday. All the English translations of her literary fiction are by Achy Obejas.
Karla Suárez—born in Havana in 1969—is a guitarist and electrical engineer, as well as the award-winning writer of close to a dozen titles. Among them is Havana Year Zero (trans. Christina MacSweeney), her first full-length English translation, Silencios, and El hijo del héroe. Several of her stories have been adapted for the stage and screen and she was named one of the Bogotá39 in 2007.
One of Granta’s Best Young Spanish-language Novelists in 2021, Havana-born Dainerys Machado (1986) is a short story writer, journalist, teacher, and researcher who also forms part of the #NewLatinoBoom. Her most recent collection is Las noventa Habanas, Her work—both fiction and non-fiction—has been anthologised in Latin America and the US, including in the anthology Home in Florida (ed. Anjanette Delgado).
Legna Rodríguez Iglesias
Poet, playwright, novelist, and short story writer Legna Rodríguez Iglesias was born in Camaguey in 1984, but currently lives in Miami. Her work—like My Favorite Girlfriend was a French Bulldog, translated by Megan McDowell—is often hybrid and absurd, as is her novel Mayonesa bien brillante and her to-date definitive poetry collection in English A little body are many parts (trans. Serafina Vick and Abigail Parry).
Born in the US to Cuban and Mexican parents, Gabriela Garcia was raised in Miami and lives in the Bay Area. She burst onto the scene with her debut novel Of Women and Salt, which was published in eight languages, and she’s also had her fiction and poetry published in numerous journals. In 2018, she won the Rona Jaffe Foundation Writers’ Award.