The best books of 2021 in Latin America

Irma Gallo

By Irma Gallo. Peninsula 360 Press [P360P].
In the last five years or so, as one more of the fortunate consequences of the rise of feminist movements in the world and specifically in the region, Latin American literature has been populated by fiction, poetry, non-fiction and autofiction stories written by women. 

On the other hand, during the last two years, the COVID19 pandemic kept millions of people in the world locked in their homes, while the poorest had to continue going out to the streets to get their daily sustenance, increasing social, racial and ethnic inequalities, and of course, gender inequalities. Studies abound showing that it was women who bore the brunt, with triple and even quadruple shifts: domestic and care work, paid online, hybrid or face-to-face work, and supporting children with schoolwork. 

It is not surprising that in these conditions new literary voices of women emerged and the already consolidated ones were reaffirmed, writing against gender violence, from feminism, anti-racism, post-coloniality, the right to decide when and how to be mothers, or not to be mothers, the concern for the devastation of the environment and the proposals to form interspecies communities, as well as the questioning of the heteropatriarchal institution of capitalism par excellence: the family. 

In addition to personal taste -because subjectivity cannot be left aside when it comes to cultural productions- this is the reason why in this list of the best books of 2021 in Latin America there are only female authors. Some write from migration: there are two Ecuadorians and a Peruvian living in Spain, as well as a Mexican in the United States; others, from the interior of the Republic in a traditionally centralist country like Mexico - there are two Oaxacans and a Queretaro, and others from their places of origin, because staying in cities and countries like ours, despite the violence and inequality, is also a political stance. But they all converge in the intention of asking questions from a common space: literature.

So here is the list. Hopefully they get all (or most) of the books, because distribution in the Spanish-language publishing industry is another big problem, which will need to be addressed in detail on another occasion.

1. It is not a riverby Selva Almada. Novel. (Argentina writing from her country). Random House Literature.

2. Sad shadowsby Lola Ancira. Short stories. (Queretana who lives and writes in Querétaro). Paradise Lost.

3. Anna and Hans, by Karen Villeda. Poem book (Tlaxcalteca who emigrated to Mexico City). Fondo de Cultura Económica).

4. Huaco portrait, by Gabriela Wiener. Novel, autofiction. (Peruvian immigrant in Spain). Random House Literature.

5. Liliana's invincible summer, by Cristina Rivera Garza. Novel, testimony, fiction. (Mexican immigrant in the United States).

6. In vitro, by Isabel Zapata. Essay. (Mexican born and based in Mexico City). Almadía.

7. Ghost horse, by Karina Sosa Castañeda. Novel. (Oaxacan writer who lives in Oaxaca). Almadía

8. The animal siegeby Vanessa Londoño. Novel. (Colombian. Lived for a time in New York and another in Oaxaca). Almadía

9. Human sacrifices, by María Fernanda Ampuero. Short stories. (Ecuadorian immigrant in Spain). Pages of foam.

10. Furyby Clyo Mendoza. Novel. (Oaxacan who lives and writes in Oaxaca). Almadía.

11. Free radicals, by Rosa Beltrán. Novel. (Mexican born and based in Mexico City). Alfaguara

12. The flying ones, by Mónica Ojeda. Short stories. (Ecuadorian immigrant in Spain). Pages of foam.

13. Split island, by Daniela Tarazona. Novel. (Mexican born and based in Mexico City). Almadía.

If you want to know more about these books and their authors, watch the talk we had with Anna Lee Mraz Bartra here.

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