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Historically, Mexican literature has dominated the umbrella term ‘Latin American Literature’, not least for the country’s proximity to the US and its incredible publishing power. Mexican authors such as Valeria Luiselli, Yuri Herrera, and Laura Esquivel are widely translated, while Elena Poniatowska and Margo Glantz are prolific if not widely known in English-speaking circles.
To say that it was difficult to narrow this selection down doesn’t come close, but here are my picks for five contemporary Mexican writers you should know (and read).
(Please note that this series focuses on authors and essayists. For poets from Mexico, check out this post.)
New York-born writer Chloe Aridjis (1971) was raised in the Netherlands and Mexico, has lived in Berlin, and is currently based in London. Aridjis is the author of three novels to date—The Book of Clouds, Asunder, and Sea Monsters, the latter of which won a PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction in 2020. She’s the daughter of poet Homero Aridjis and has a PhD in 19th-century French Poetry from Oxford.
Renowned Mexican author of short story collections such as Bezoar (trans. Suzanne Jill Levine) and Natural Histories (trans. JT Lichtenstein), Guadalupe Nettel was born in Mexico City in 1973. She’s also the author of four novels, among them The Body Where I Was Born (trans. JT Lichtenstein) and La hija única; in 2014 she won the Premio Herralde for After the Winter (trans. Rosalind Harvey). She was one of the Bogotá39 in 2007.
Read my review of After the Winter here.
Cristina Rivera Garza
Prolific novelist, essayist, poet, short story writer, and translator Cristina Rivera Garza was born in Matamoros in 1964. Among her best-known works in English-translation are No One Will See Me Cry (trans. Andrew Hurley), The Taiga Syndrome (trans. Suzanne Jill Levine and Aviva Kana), and The Iliac Crest (trans. Sarah Booker). She currently teaches at the University of California, San Diego, and is the only two-time winner of the Sor Juana Prize.
Essayist and novelist Brenda Navarro (Mexico City, 1982) is perhaps best known for her novel Casas vacías (translated into English as Empty Houses by Sophie Hughes), although she’s also published short stories. She was the founder of the now defunct literary movement #EnjambreLiterario and currently forms part of the Ellas Cuidan collective. She’s been based in Spain since 2015.
Read my review of Empty Houses here.
Fernanda Melchor—born in Veracruz, 1982—shot to success in the English-speaking world with her novel Hurricane Season (trans. Sophie Hughes), which was shortlisted for the 2020 Booker International Prize. She’s also the writer of Aquí no es Miami (a collection of literary journalism), and the novels Falsa Liebre and Páradais. She also co-wrote the script for Netflix series Somos alongside Monika Revilla.