10 of the Best Hispanic Authors to Listen to Right Now
These Hispanic authors have written some of the best books of all time. Here are our favorite groundbreaking listens from notable Hispanic writers.
July 23, 2020
While Hispanic Heritage Month always inspires articles about famous Spanish and Latin American authors, celebrating these great creators and their work should be something we aim to do throughout the year.
This list is in no way exhaustive, but it is a great place to discover—or rediscover—exceptional Hispanic writers, many with extensive back catalogs. It’s especially gratifying to hear these works in the language in which they were written, with gorgeous renditions en español. Many of the titles we spotlight are Spanish language, performed by some of the most talented Hispanic voice artists working today.
And while you’ll have plenty of their work to listen to, we also suggest you learn about the lives of each author. Their inspiring personal stories include struggles as immigrants, expatriates, and refugees.
Chilean-American author Isabel Allende is a prolific, highly awarded writer of more than 20 books that have been translated into 42 languages. Her works range in genre, from sweeping historical novels to stories incorporating elements of magical realism, and her lush and beautiful settings are perfect for audio adaptation. If you’ve only listened to The House of the Spirits, her best-known work in the US, definitely dive into the rest of her catalog for more beautiful and powerful stories that focus on the lives and experiences of women throughout history. Among her other audiobooks are The Japanese Lover, which takes you to 1939 Poland for a historical romance, and A Long Petal of the Sea, a novel set during the Spanish Civil War that follows two refugees as they embark for Chile, on a ship chartered by the poet Pablo Neruda, and face trial after trial in exile.
Chilean poet Pablo Neruda was the 1971 winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature, and to this day, he is globally known as one of the greatest poets of the 20th century. Whether he's writing about the sea or love or... well, anything, Neruda’s words are beautiful and, like most poetry, even better heard out loud, which makes his collections perfect as audiobooks. Start with his Veinte Poemas de Amor y Una Canción Desesperada (20 Love Poems and a Song of Despair) and The Essential Neruda.
Before his death at age 50, Chilean author Roberto Bolaño wrote five poetry collections, two story collections, and nine novels, earning him recognition as one of the greatest Latin American writers of his generation. Start with his Rómulo Gallegos Prize and Herralde de Novela Award-winning work Los Detectives Salvajes/The Savage Detectives, and enjoy a complicated road trip through Mexico City, Barcelona, Israel, Liberia, and the desert of northern Mexico. It's narrated en español by Alberto Santillán, Angelines Santana, Yareli Arizmendi, Roberto Medina, and Horacio Mancilla, and in English by Eddie Lopez and Armando Durán.
The Peruvian-Spanish writer, politician, journalist, essayist, and college professor won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 2010 and remains an important political voice, with a long-running column in the Spanish newspaper El País, which is reprinted around the world. His works range in topic, but we especially love his semi-autobiographical tale of a young man’s secret affair with his aunt, La tía Julia y el Escribidor/Aunt Julia and the Scriptwriter.
Dominican-American Julia Alvarez is a poet, novelist, and essayist with six novels, three nonfiction books, three poetry collections, and 11 books for children and young adults. She is highly acclaimed, having received the National Medal of Arts from President Obama, and best known for her novels How the García Girls Lost Their Accents and In the Time of the Butterflies. Both audiobooks are performed by a full cast, with Noemi de la Puente and Melanie Martinez lending their voices.
When Argentinian author Julio Cortázar died in the mid 1980s, Madrid’s El País newspaper devoted 11 pages of tributes spanning two days to hailing one of Latin America’s greatest writers. Cortázar wrote four novels exploring man vs. society; one travel journal in collaboration with his wife, published just before his death; and numerous short stories filled with the magical realism he was known for. If you’re looking for a listen to get started, try the novel Rayuela. For a short story collection, pick up Bestiario/Bestiary, narrated by Leandro Schnitman en español.
A dual citizen of the United States and Mexico, Sandra Cisneros is an artist, poet, writer, and author who has won not only numerous awards, but also a place in classrooms. Her book The House on Mango Street is taught in schools throughout the US and has been translated into more than 20 languages. If you’ve yet to listen to the beloved classic—a tale told in vignettes about a young a Mexican-American girl living in Chicago—we recommend you start there; it’s a gorgeous coming-of-age story narrated beautifully by Cisneros herself. And then get to know her a bit better in her autobiographical story collection, A House of My Own: Stories from My Life.
Recipient of an Alfredo Cisneros Del Moral Foundation Award, Cristina Henríquez writes articles for top magazines, novels, and short stories. Her audiobook The Book of Unknown Americans is beautiful, sharp, and gut wrenching. It has multicast narration and, in our opinion, is hands down one of the best audiobooks produced—and certainly deserving of all the Best Of lists it was on when it was first published.
Puerto Rican-American Esmeralda Santiago naturally evolved from writing/producing documentaries to writing essays and opinion pieces to writing a series of memoirs and a work of historical fiction. Start with the first of her memoirs, When I Was Puerto Rican. Narrating versions in both español and English, Santiago recounts growing up as the oldest of 11 children, starting in Macún, Puerto Rico, and immigrating as a teenager to Brooklyn, NY, and the difficulties that plagued her family throughout.
A poet, essayist, and fiction writer, Erika L. Sánchez grew up in Cicero, Illinois, the daughter of Mexican immigrants. If you like stories filled with secrets and emotion, listen to her award-winning YA novel, Yo No Soy Tu Perfecta Hija Mexicana/I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter. Narrated by Scarlett Bernal Hernández in español and Kyla Garcia in English, it follows a young woman who sets out to learn the truth about her dead older sister and comes to understand the tensions in her family.
Jamie Canavés is a Book Riot contributing editor and Tailored Book Recommendations coordinator. She writes the Unusual Suspects mystery newsletter, never says no to chocolate or ’80s nostalgia, and can hold a conversation using only gifs.