If you’re an avid reader like me, then you’re always searching for the next book to read or writer to follow. So if you’ve already worked your way through Sandra Cisneros and Isabel Allende, I’m here to introduce you to a few of the other Latina writers who have changed the game in the last decade or so. Below, find 12 Latina writers you need to have on your radar because they’re serving up varied storylines, three-dimensional characters, and everything else you’d look for in a good book.
With more than six novels published, Puerto Rican-Dominican author Sofia Quintero, who hails from the Bronx, is no stranger to the publishing world. She’s a hip-hop activist who writes edgy, intelligent novels for women under the pseudonym Black Artemis. Her critically acclaimed adult debut novel, Explicit Content, illuminates what the rap game is like for women in the industry. In 2010, Quintero published her first young adult novel, Efrain’s Secret from Knopf, which received rave reviews.
Her latest is called Show and Prove, a raw and poignant story of music, urban plight, and racial tension that’s as relevant today as in 1983 when the book takes place. She holds a master’s degree from Columbia University and has worked with many social justice organizations throughout the country. Quintero was also a 2017 Made in NY Writers Room fellow and currently developing one of her novels into a television show.
Honduran and Colombian award-winning comic artist and illustrator Kat Fajardo is one budding writer to keep an eye on. Her mini comic Gringa! expresses years of personal struggle with cultural identity through assimilation, racism, and fetishization of Latin culture as an American Latina that is so, so, so, relevant today. A graduate of The School of Visual Arts, she’s editor of La Raza Anthology and creator of Bandida Comics series. She’s collaborated with Celia C. Pérez’s The First Rule of Punk (Penguin Random House), CollegeHumor, and several anthologies. You can find her working at her Brooklyn studio creating playful and colorful work about self-acceptance and Latinx culture. She has a forthcoming graphic novel.
Ibi Zoboi, who hails from Haiti, is turning the vodou stereotype on its head with her debut novel for teens called American Street, a National Book Award Finalist. Zoboi immigrated to New York with her mother when she was 4 years old and believed everything about her new home was both strange and magical. This influenced why she loves reading and writing science-fiction, fantasy, and mythology. Her forthcoming young adult novel, Pride, is a smart, funny remix of Pride and Prejudice featuring Zuri Benitez, a Dominican lead who fights to save her rapidly gentrifying neighborhood from becoming unrecognizable.
Panama-born and Brooklyn-raised, Veronica Chambers is a prolific author best known for her memoir, Mama’s Girl, which hundreds of high schools and colleges throughout the country have added to their curriculums. Chambers often writes about her Afro-Latina heritage and is currently a John S. Knight Journalism fellow at Stanford University. She writes for both adults, teens, and children. She has also collaborated with many celebrities, such as Robin Roberts, Michael Strahan, and Timbaland. Her latest work for teens is called The Go-Between, a coming-of-age novel that explores issues of identity and belonging in a world that is ever-changing, and which TheNew York Times called “smart and zany, the YA book we could all use right now.”
Rita Indiana is a Dominican writer, and singer-songwriter. Drawing on her memories of childhood split between Santo Domingo and visits with her father in the United States, Indiana pens Papi: A Novel anddeftly blends together satire, horror with science fiction, in a swirling tale of a daughter’s love, the lure of crime and machismo, and the violence of the adult world. In 2011, El País named her one of the 100 Most Influential Latino Personalities.
Carmen Maria Machado
Carmen Machado’s debut, Her Body and Other Parties, has been listed by TheNew York Times as a member of “The New Vanguard” and one of “15 remarkable books by women that are shaping the way we read and write fiction in the 21st century.” If that doesn’t make you want to read her book then I don’t know what else will! Her Body and Other Parties was also a finalist for the National Book Award, the Shirley Jackson Award, the Kirkus Prize, LA Times Book Prize Art Seidenbaum Award for First Fiction, the Dylan Thomas Prize, and the PEN/Robert W. Bingham Prize for Debut Fiction, and the winner of the Bard Fiction Prize and the National Book Critics Circle’s John Leonard Prize. If you haven’t read this book yet, you need to add it to your to-be-read pile yesterday.
“My poetry is the barbaric yawp that I will sound from all the rooftops of the world, because it is the only way I can be sure my words will echo!” this quote can be found on the website of Jasminne Mendez, a Dominican poet and a force to be reckoned with. Mendez is a Canto Mundo Fellow, a Macondo Fellow, and a current MFA creative writing candidate at the Rainier Writing Workshop at the Pacific Lutheran University.
Her second book, Night-Blooming Jasmin(n)e: Personal Essays & Poem, recently published in April by Arte Public Press, has already received rave reviews. Her multi-genre memoir, Island of Dreams, was awarded Best Young Adult Latino Focused Book by the International Latino Book Awards in 2015. Mendez has also won the COG Poetry Prize for her poems, “Run, Irelia, Run,” “Bounty,” and “Return to Water.” She is the founder and program director of the Houston-based Latino literary arts organization Tintero Projects, and a co-host to the poetry and writing podcast series InkWell, a collaboration between Tintero Projects and Inprint Houston.
Malka Older debuted on the scene with her first critically acclaimed novel, Infomocracy, in 2016 which The Huffington Post called “one of the greatest literary debuts in recent history.” Writing in a genre dominated by white male authors, this is a huge win for the Latinx community. But if you want more reason to follow Malka, then you should know that Infomocracy also became a Locus Award Finalist for Best First Novel, a Campbell Award Finalist, a KirkusBest Fiction of 2016, Book Riot’s Best Books of 2016, and one of The Washington Post’s Best Science Fiction and Fantasy of 2016.
Older is not only a writer but a humanitarian worker, and a Ph.D. candidate at the Centre de Sociologie des Organisations studying governance and disasters. Named Senior Fellow for Technology and Rick at the Carnegie Council for Ethics in international Affairs for 2015, she has more than eight years of experience in humanitarian aid and development, and has responded to complex emergencies and natural disasters in Uganda, Indonesia, Japan, and Mali. Her latest in The Centenal Cycle includes Null States (on-sale now) and State Tectonics (forthcoming September 2018).
Award-winning author Lillam Rivera’s work has appeared in Lenny letter, Tin House, Los Angeles Times, Latina, USA Today, Cosmo for Latinas, Bellevue Literary Review, The Rumpus, and Los Angeles Review of Books. Rivera is a 2016 Pushcart Prize winner and a 2015 Clarion alumni with a Leonard Pung Memorial Scholarship. She has been awarded fellowships from PEN Center USA, A Room of Her Own Foundation, and received a grant from the Elizabeth George Foundation and the Speculative Literature Foundation. Her short story “Death Defiant Bomba” received honorable mention in Bellevue Literary Review’s 2014 Goldenberg Prize for Fiction, and she also received honorable mention in the 2018 James Tiptree, Jr. Literary Award.
Her debut YA contemporary novel The Education of Margot Sanchez was nominated for a 2017 Best Fiction for Young Adult Fiction by the Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA) and has received coverage on NPR, New York Times Book Review, New York Magazine, MTV.com, and Teen Vogue. Her next book, Dealing in Dreams, is set for a 2019 release.
Yesika Salgado, a Salvadoran-American from Los Angeles, is a poet who writes about her family, her cultura, her city, and her brown body. She has shared her work in venues and campuses throughout the country. In the last few years, she self-published zines of poetry titled The Luna Poems, WOES, and Sentimental Boss Bitch. She is a three-time member of Da Poetry Lounge Slam Team and a 2017 National Poetry Slam finalist. Her latest, Corazón, is a love story about the constant hunger for love. Salgado creates a world in which the heart can live anywhere: her fat brown body, her parents’ home country, a lover, a toothbrush, a mango, or a song. It is a celebration of heartache, of how it can ruin us, but most importantly how we always survive it and return to ourselves whole.
Daisy Hernández is the author of A Cup of Water Under My Bed, a coming-of-age memoir by a Colombian-Cuban woman about shaping lessons from home into a new queer life. This heartfelt exploration of family, identity, and language in A Cup of Water Under My Bed is ultimately a daughter’s story of finding herself and her community while creating and exploring a new queer life. Hernández is also the co-editor of Colonize This! Young Women of Color on Today’s Feminism. Hernández, the former editor of Colorlines, has written for The Atlantic, The New York Times, and NPR’s All Things Considered and CodeSwitch, and her essays have appeared in the Bellingham Review, Fourth Genre, Gulf Coast, Hunger Mountain, Rumpus,and Tricycle. She is an Assistant Professor in the Creative Writing Program at Miami University in Ohio.
Born and raised in New York City to Dominican parents, award-winning poet and author Elizabeth Acevedo is a National Slam Champion, Beltway Grand Slam Champion, and the 2016 Women of the World Poetry Slam representative for Washington, DC, where she placed eighth in the world. Her poems have been published in Poetry, Puerto Del Sol, Callaloo, The Notre Dame Review, and many others. Her debut novel for teens, The Poet X, was an instant New York Times bestseller and is one of the most amazing novels in verse out right now.
“This is my personal invitation for your to explore my website, to interact with my work, to find joy here and to be boldly moved to let your own joy loose upon the world,” she writes on her website, inviting us into her world. With more than 15 years of performance experience, Acevedo has been a featured performer on BET, TV One’s Verses and Flow, and she’s performed in renowned venues like Lincoln Center, Madison Square Garden, Kennedy Center of the Performing Arts, South Africa’s State Theatre, The Bozar in Brussels, and the National Library of Kosovo.