If you’ve already read my ‘about’ page, you know I hate writing introductions. Most people never read them anyway (have you actually read my ‘about’ page?) and those who do probably don’t care all that much about them. Yet here we are; it’s 2020 and nothing means anything anymore, but I need to break the seal on my latest blog so, yes, I’m doing it in the form of an introductory post.
Blah, blah, blah. I’m Lauren, a freelance writer from the UK. I enjoy tea and cats and yes, I’m a walking cliche.
And, like everyone who’s ever written a hastily cobbled together CV for a job they didn’t really want in the first place, I love to read. Except I actually love to read, even though there weren’t really books in my house when I was growing up, save for a seemingly well-thumbed copy of Wuthering Heights hidden in the TV cabinet cupboard. (I don’t think either my mum or dad have ever read that book, so I still have no explanation for that one.)
I used to queue up for novels at midnight, the swimming goggles I got for Christmas one year became my ‘reading goggles’ (before I got actual ‘reading goggles’), and my mum and dad are now the proud owners of a double-stacked book shelf that I left behind in my childhood bedroom when I moved from my verdant Yorkshire village to the Mexican capital.
Because if there’s one interest that shares as much space in my brain as books, it’s Latin America. I’ve lived in Mexico for close to six years now, give or take a few months back in the UK and a six-month backpacking stint in Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and Chile. As a freelance writer, I’d almost exclusively focused on writing about this part of the world until a pesky global pandemic hit and the travel industry folded like a cheap suit seemingly overnight. I even have a travel blog dedicated to all things Mexico, Northern Lauren.
But I always had the most fun when I got the chance to write about books; from romance round-ups over at Ozy to essays about medieval proto-feminist poets, it’s always been more exciting to talk literature than restaurant listicles.
So I figured why not combine the two? I’ve been reading books by Latin American authors for years now and while it seems like the wider reading world is finally coming to terms with the fact that Latin American literature is more than García Márquez and magical realism, there’s still so much Latin American literature — especially by women — that gets lost in the shuffle. Plus, if noone will pay me to write this stuff (seriously, try making money from book content in mainstream media) I’ll just do it for free and not sign away any of my intellectual property rights in the meantime.
What I’m trying to say, in a somewhat roundabout way, is that this blog is about women, gender non-conforming and non-binary writers from Latin America. It’s about opinions (mine, obv) and essays (mine, again) and the books you should be looking out for in translation, as well as the ones that are only available in their original language. It’s about why you shouldn’t feel daunted about reading in a language that’s not your first — yes, I’ll be writing reviews on books that aren’t yet available in English!
Admittedly, there’ll be a heavy skew towards Mexico (at least at first) because that’s where I live, what I’ve been reading most recently and, like I said, I have a whole bookshelf of titles by Mexican women to work my way through. But I’ll be branching out to talk about indie bookstores, small editorials, and books from all across Latin America, including French and Portuguese speaking regions. (Although there’ll be no French and Portuguese book reviews because sadly I haven’t conquered those languages just yet.)
Hope you like it or whatever.