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Ecuador is a country that often gets overlooked in discussions of Latin American literature—at least by English speakers, anyway—and yet this liminal, equator-straddling country has produced some of the best short story writers, novelists, and essayists of recent times.
Here are five contemporary Ecuadorian writers you should know (and read).
(Please note that this series focuses on authors and essayists. For poets from Ecuador, check out this post.)
María Fernanda Ampuero
Short story writer and journalist María Fernanda Ampuero was born in Guayaquil in 1976 but has lived in Madrid, Spain for over a decade. Best-known among English-speaking readers for her short story collection Cockfight—Frances Riddle’s translation of Pelea de gallos, which was named one of the best books of 2018—Ampuero has also written Sacrificios humanos and the non-fiction book Lo que aprendí en la peluquería.
Read my review of Cockfight here.
Brazil-born Ecuadorian writer Gabriela Alemán (1968) is an international woman of mystery—a professional basketball player in Switzerland and Paraguay, she’s studied in the UK, taught in Ecuador and the US, and currently lives in Quito, Ecuador. She has also worked as a translator, waitress, and editor; however, she’s perhaps best-known for her fiction, from Poso Wells to Smoke (Humo), both translated into English by Dick Cluster, as well as several other languages.
Read my review of Poso Wells here.
Named as one of the Bogotá39 in 2017, Mónica Ojeda (1988) is a Guayaquil-born Ecuatorian writer known primarily for her novels Mandíbula (translated as Jawbone by Sarah Booker) and Nefando, as well as the short story collection Las voladoras, In 2021, she was also named one of Granta’s Best Young Spanish-Language Novelists. Currently, Ojeda is based in Madrid and is studying for a PhD in pornoeroticism in Latin American literature.
Karla Cornejo Villavicencio
Widely known as one of the first undocumented immigrants to graduate from Harvard, Karla Cornejo Villavicencio was born in Ecuador in 1989, and raised in Queens, New York City. She charted her experience, as well as that of other undocumented immigrants, in the hybrid memoir-essay collection The Undocumented Americans, which was shortlisted for the 2020 National Book Award. She’s currently finishing up her PhD at Yale.
Solange Rodríguez Pappe
Born in Guayaquil in 1976, Solange Rodríguez Pappe is a short story writer known for her unsettling, strange, and ghostly narratives which have been translated to English, French, and Mandarin. She currently has eight short story collections to her name, including La primera vez que vi un fantasma and Balas perdidas—which won her the Premio Joaquín Gallegos Lara. In 2020, she was awarded the Premio Matilde Hidalgo for her 20-year career in the literary arts.