This post is part of the #ReadMoreLatam2021 Challenge. Click here for more info.
The challenge for this month is to read a Latin American book in a genre you normally avoid.
Picture the scene: you pick up a book, enticed in by its slick cover and sexy book jacket and then you realise it’s that genre, the one you just can’t stand and avoid at all costs. We all have them.
Mine is, as a rule, historical fiction. Set something in a time gone by and try to make me read about past events and conjure up period costumes in my mind’s eye, and I’m deterred before I’ve even cracked the spine.
No, I want that shit in a BBC miniseries and I want Keira Knightley to star in it. But I don’t want to read it.
(Also, I deeply apologise for sexualising books just now.)
But anyway; genre. This article on OprahMag considers ‘genre’ to encapsulate both style – think: romance or mystery – and form, also listing short stories and graphic novels under the broad and nebulous umbrella of genre (even though you can also have short horror stories and graphic novel romances).
In short, there’s no right answer and, of course, many books mix and match ‘genre’ at will, creating hybrid works that are impossible to neatly categorise. Given that, feel free to interpret genre however you want – I’m not your mum! There’s no need to get hyper-technical and convoluted about this.
Think about what you read most often. Is it romance? Crime? Fantasy? Cool. Now pick something different and read that this month. Easy, right.
Now, recommendations. How can I possibly provide recommendations based on a challenge which by definition requires readers to choose…wildly different types of books? Uh, I can’t. So, I’m going to give you a toe-in-the-water set of Latin American titles – with some vague genre categorisations – and you can take it from there for January.
(As always, the recommendations include books I’ve read, books I’ve reviewed, or simply books I want to read and review.)
Moonbath by Yanick Lahens, trans. Emily Gogolak (Novel)
Entre los rotos by Alaíde Ventura (Coming-of-age novel)
The Everything I Have Lost by Sylvia Aguilar Zéleny (Coming-of-age novel)
A Crack in the Wall by Claudia Piñeiro, trans. Miranda France (Detective)
Ordinary Girls by Jaquira Díaz (Memoir)
Space Invaders by Nona Fernández, trans. Natasha Wimmer (Novella)
Sexographies by Gabriela Wiener, trans. Juana Adcock and Lucy Greaves (Essays)
Little Eyes by Samanta Schweblin, trans. Megan McDowell (Science fiction)
Like Water For Chocolate by Laura Esquivel, trans. Carol and Thomas Christensen (Romance…ish)
Tender is the Flesh by Agustina Bazterrica, trans. Sarah Moses (Horror, Dystopia)
Fiebre Tropical by Julián Delgado Lopera (LGBTQII+, Coming-of-age)
I’ll be reading: The Book of Anna by Carmen Boullosa, trans. Samantha Schnee (a loose historical fiction, emphasis on the fiction here)
Update: Read my review of The Book of Anna here!