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Historically produced both on and off the island of Puerto Rico thanks to Spanish colonisation, by the latter half of the 20th century, Puerto Rican literature was greatly influenced by the cresting Nuyorican movement founded by Puerto Ricans based in New York.
Now, you’ll find Puerto Rican authors writing in both Spanish and English, in the US, Puerto Rico, and beyond. That in mind, here are my picks for five contemporary Puerto Rican writers you should know (and read).
(Please note that this series focuses on authors and essayists. For poets from Puerto Rico, check out this post.)
Perhaps best known for her much-anticipated 2019 memoir Ordinary Girls, Jaquira Díaz is a Puerto Rican-born, Miami-raised fiction writer, essayist, and journalist. For Ordinary Girls, Díaz won a Whiting Award and was a Lambda Literary Awards finalist. Her debut novel I Am Deliberate is forthcoming and she’s currently a Consulting Editor at the Kenyon Review.
Ivelisse Rodríguez was born in Arecibo, Puerto Rico and grew up in Massachusetts. A fiction writer, editor, and short storyist, Rodríguez is the author of Love War Stories and the chapbook The Belindas. She’s currently working on a novel called The Last Salsa Singer about 70s era salsa musicians in Puerto Rico and is the founder and editor of an interview series for Centro Voices.
Born in Carolina, Puerto Rico in 1966, Mayra Santos-Febres is a fiction writer, poet, essayist, and professor. Amongst the more than a dozen titles—spanning poetry and prose—to her name are Pez de vidrio (which won the 1994 Juan Rulfo Award), Sirena Selena (translated into English by Stephen Lyttle), Our Lady of the Night (translated into English by Ernesto Mestre-Reed), and Antes que llegue la luz.
Award-winning YA author Lilliam Rivera is based in Los Angeles. Some of her latest titles include Never Look Back, a retelling of Greek myth; Dealing in Dreams; The Education of Margot Sanchez; the YA sci-fi novel called We Light Up The Sky. She also writes for middle grade readers and has a graphic novel with DC Comics forthcoming.
Yolanda Arroyo Pizarro
Novelist, short story writer, and essayist Yolanda Arroyo Pizarro was born in Guaynabo in 1970. She’s published a number of short stories and novels, including Caparazones, Violeta, Las negras, and TRANScaribeñx. In 2007, she was one of the years Bogotá39 and in 2014, Arroyo Pizarro and her partner Zulma Oliveras Vega were the first same-sex couple to marry in Puerto Rico. Her work has been translated into English, French, Hungarian, and Italian.