Supporting women and celebrating my cultural heritage are two things that have become increasingly important to me over the years, so it only makes sense that championing Latinx creatives and their work is a passion project of mine. And as our culture continues to respond to both racial and gender disparities — including reckoning with the repercussions of rampant systemic sexual harassment and abuse — raising up people of color is something we all must do to bridge the gap. If you're someone who is hoping to do this by including a wider variety of viewpoints in the media you consume, books are obviously a great place to start. Not only does reading increase empathy, it gives us all a jumping off point for crucial conversations.
The 15 Latinx authors below all have incredible books to choose from, each representing a unique voice in Latinx culture and all continuing the work of luminaries like Sandra Cisneros, Laura Esquivel, Isabel Allende, and Julia Alvarez for modern readers. Each of these writers represents some of the best in not only Latinx literature, but literature in general. If you're looking for writers whose names deserve to be on any list of influential Latinx authors, look no further than the writers below.
Gabby Rivera, Author of 'Juliet Takes A Breath'
Gabby Rivera's critically acclaimed debut YA novel, Juliet Takes a Breath, has been praised for its realistic depiction of race, culture, and queer issues through main character Juliet Milagros Palante, a teen girl from the Bronx who begins to explore her identity after coming out to her family and moving to Portland to intern with a prominent feminist activist.
Elizabeth Acevedo, Author of 'The Poet X'
After years of performing her poetry around the country, Elizabeth Acevedo became an instant New York Times bestseller with her YA debut, The Poet X. The book combines her love of poetry with ruminations on culture, religion, and feminism through the eyes of Xiomara, a 16-year-old girl finding her voice through writing and performing as she grapples with her immigrant parents' strict rules and stifling expectations.
Valeria Luiselli, Author of 'Tell Me How It Ends'
Valeria Luiselli uses her life, including her unique upbringing as the daughter of Mexico's ambassador to South Africa, as inspiration for her works, like The Story of My Teeth and her essay collection How It Ends, in which she shares her experiences volunteering on behalf of refugee children crossing into the United States. Luiselli writes in both Spanish and English, but she doesn't only write books — other recent work includes a 2010 ballet libretto for the choreographer Christopher Wheeldon, which was performed by the New York City Ballet at Lincoln Center.
Jenny Torres Sanchez, Author of 'Because of the Sun'
Jenny Torres Sanchez has been steadily publishing YA books since she released her debut novel in 2012, and most of her work centers on the lives of Latinx characters. Her most recent release, 2017's Because of the Sun, follows Dani Falls as she travels from suburban Florida to the parched desert of New Mexico after the sudden death of her mother. The book explores the complexity of family, the saving grace of friendship, and the healing that can begin when the truth is finally brought to light. Her next book, The Fall of Innocence, is scheduled for release in June.
Lilliam Rivera, Author of 'The Education of Margot Sanchez'
Lilliam Rivera's debut YA novel, The Education of Margot Sanchez, put her on the map as a Latina writer to watch. The book, which tackles the toxicity of patriarchal family structures, race, culture, and gentrification through one summer in the life of Bronx-based Puerto Rican teen Margot Sanchez is an unflinching depiction of the coming-of-age process. Her next book, Dealing in Dreams, is due out in 2019.
Jennine Capó Crucet, Author of 'Make Your Home Among Strangers'
Cuban-American author Jennine Capó Crucet's two principal works — her short story collection How to Leave Hialeah and novel Make Your Home Among Strangers — have cemented her as an important voice for first-generation Latinxs in the United States. Her award-winning short stories depict the lives of Latinx working-class families in Hialeah, Florida, where she was born. Meanwhile, her novel focuses on adjusting to college life as a Cuban immigrant. The author is also an assistant professor of English and Ethnic Studies at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.
Janelle Milanes, Author of 'The Victoria In My Head'
Janelle Milanes's YA debut, The Victoria In My Mind, follows Cuban-American Victoria as she grapples with your typical coming-of-age issues — boys, friendship, and finding yourself in high school — all with strict Latinx parents to boot. Milanes's next book, Analee, in Real Life is due to hit shelves in September.
Erika L. Sánchez, Author of 'I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter'
Erika L. Sánchez's debut YA novel, I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter, made waves even before it was published, after being nominated for the National Book Award in early October 2017. The novel — which closely followed Sánchez's debut poetry collection, Lessons on Expulsion — takes an unflinching look at the lives of Mexican immigrants through Julia, who discovers devastating family secrets after her sister Olga is killed in a car accident.
Mariana Enriquez, Author of 'Things We Lost in the Fire'
Argentine writer Mariana Enríquez has written many books in Spanish, including 2017's Things We Lost in the Fire, translated by Megan McDowell. The collection of macabre horror short stories brings contemporary Argentina to vibrant life as a place where shocking inequality, violence, and corruption are the law of the land, while military dictatorship and legions of desaparecidos loom large in the collective memory. The powerful exploration of some of humanity's darkest impulses have made her a necessary voice in contemporary fiction.
Anna-Marie McLemore, Author of 'Wild Beauty'
Anna-Marie McLemore is known for her magical realism novels, including her debut, The Weight of Feathers, and last year's Wild Beauty. The latter tells the story of the matriarchal Nomeolvides family and the curse they must break in a stunning exploration of magic, love, and loss. Her forthcoming book, Blanca & Roja, tells the story of the two del Cisne sisters and their dangerous rivalry, and it hits shelves in October.
Zoraida Córdova, Author of 'Labyrinth Lost'
Zoraida Córdova has been a mainstay in YA fiction since her 2012 release, The Vicious Deep, though she is perhaps best known for her ongoing Brooklyn Brujas series, which began with Labyrinth Lost in 2016. The urban fantasy book follows Alex Mortiz, a teenaged bruja who accidentally sends her family to a dark underworld when she tries to rid herself of her powers. The next book in the series, Bruja Born, follows Alex's elder sister Lula, and hits shelves in June.
Samantha Mabry, Author of 'All the Wind in the World'
You may recognize Samantha Mabry from her newest book, All the Wind in the World, which nabbed a spot on the National Book Award longlist in 2017. The book explores the deserts of the Southwest, and, like her debut, A Fierce and Subtle Poison, is a story about mysterious magic and forbidden romance.
Cristina Henríquez, Author of 'The Book of Unknown Americans'
The Book of Unknown Americans was a big book of 2014, celebrated for its accurate, heart-wrenching depiction of immigrant life in the United States. Through the tragic story of the love between a Panamanian boy and a Mexican girl, Henríquez charts the expectations, dreams, and heartbreaks of immigrants in the United States.
Cristina Moracho, Author of 'Althea & Oliver'
Cristina Moracho has written two YA novels, including 2017's thriller A Good Idea. But it was her beloved contemporary novel Althea & Oliver that first made her one to watch in the genre. Set in the DIY, mix tape, and zine culture of the mid-'90s, the book explores the lives of two best friends after everything falls apart.
Carmen Maria Machado, Author of 'Her Body and Other Parties'
Carmen Maria Machado's collection of short stories, Her Body and Other Parties, was a National Book Award finalist and, undoubtedly, one of the biggest books of 2017. The provocative debut bends genre to tell startling stories that map the realities of women's lives and the violence visited upon their bodies — a beyond crucial take from a woman of color in our current social and political climate.