Books take important narratives and deliver them to the masses. They transmit culture, life experiences, and new ideas. They inform and inspire. That’s why Latinx books and Latinx literary classics are so important – they share our various cultures with us and with the world.
Within the over 120 million published books, so many Latinx titles have stood the test of time and can be considered true literary classics. In this article, I’m recommending five of the most iconic, the ones that started magical realism, inspired countless budding authors, and made it onto reading lists across the nation. Which is all to say – if you haven’t already, you should definitely read them.
One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
Colombian author Gabriel Garcia Marquez is known as the father of magical realism. His 1967 literary masterpiece, One Hundred Years of Solitude, is considered one of the top examples of this genre. The story follows seven generations of the Buendía family, who live in the fictional town of Macondo. One Hundred Years of Solitude has sold a staggering 50 million-plus copies, in 25 languages.
The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros
Another Latinx classic in literature is Sandra Cisneros’ The House on Mango Street. Often a part of required reading in high schools across America, the 1984 novel lets readers listen in on one year of 12-year-old Chicana Esperanza Cordero’s life as she grows up in Chicago. The stories are based on Cisneros’ own life, as well as those of her students.
The House of the Spirits by Isabel Allende
The House of the Spirits, the debut novel by acclaimed Chilean author Isabel Allende, is another classic example of magical realism. Published in 1982, and influenced by One Hundred Years of Solitude, it also follows multiple generations of a family, in this case, the Trueba family in Chile. The House of the Spirits has won several literary awards, including Chile’s Best Novel of the Year, Mexico’s Best Novel, Germany’s Author of the Year, and Germany’s Book of the Year awards.
Like Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquivel
Like Water for Chocolate takes readers to Coahuila, Mexico, near the U.S.-Mexico border. There, Mexican writer Laura Esquivel introduces us to Tita, who has to put her love for Pedro aside due to family obligations. Esquivel also uses magical realism in this classic, showing us how Tita magically puts her repressed feelings into her cooking.
Ficciones by Jorge Luis Borges
Jorge Luis Borges’ Ficciones is the last book on my list and perhaps the weightiest. It is made up of 17 stories from the Argentinian co-founder of magical realism, written from 1936 to 1953 (with the original version of the book being published in 1944, and updated in 1956). Themes that pop up include labyrinths, infinity, copies, free will, and mirrors.