Every year National Latinx/Hispanic Heritage Month rolls around. I do some self-reflection during this time, and I wonder if I have been supporting the Latinx arts and artists. Have I read that book? Have I seen that film? Have I watched that play or musical? Have I watched the television series starring those folks? With Latinx/Hispanic Heritage Month running from September 15th until October 15th, now is a chance to revisit old books (because they are unforgettable) or finally pick up that book that has been on all of the lists. While the following book list isn’t a definitive one, it will add to your Latinx/Hispanic Heritage Month celebration. By this time next year, you’ll seek out books by some of the best Latinx/Hispanic voices in literature from yesterday, today, and tomorrow.
These following five books have been adapted or will be adapted to a TV series or a film.
I wanted to start with a classic novel by the inimitable Colombian author Gabriel Garcia Marquez. This story is about a multi-generational story about the Buendia family taking place in Colombia. Magical realism fuels the storytelling in this novel. Netflix bought the rights to adapt as a TV show.
Tita finds the love of her life in Pedro but since she is the youngest child, she is banished from ever marrying and obligated to care for her aging her mother until her death. She expresses herself through her cooking. Anyone who loves cooking will enjoy this or as a tale of unrequited love. The film adaptation and book complement each other nicely.
The famous Mirabel sisters aided in the takedown of the dictator, Rafael Trujillo in the Dominican Republic. This historical novel takes us through the journey of that story. Also, there is also a film adaptation starring Salma Hayek, Marc Anthony, and Edward James Olmos.
Told in the plural form “we,” this story is about a queer boy navigating his sexuality and his tumultuous home life. Lyrical and encapsulating, the short book leaves you with a feeling of longing. The film adaptation is just as captivating and poetic as the novel it’s based on.
Acevedo was inspired by Esquivel’s Like Water for Chocolate. It shows in the way Emoni infuses her feelings when she cooks for her family and friends. This novel about a young mother, Emoni, whose dream is to become a chef. Her dream and the novel is beautiful, inspiring, and heartwarming. With a National Book Award under Acevedo’s belt from her successful novel debut Poet X (read that one too), this, her second novel, was optioned for a film adaptation. Everything’s coming up Elizabeth Acevedo! Wepa!
Angie Cruz’s third novel is a coming of age novel about a Dominican young girl trying to make it in a 1960s era in New York City as her native country goes through turmoil. You know, I had to include another novel taking place in my hometown of NYC.
A beautiful novel about five women taking place in 1970s Uruguay and following them on a journey through loss, love, and everything in between. De Robertis’ fifth novel wows and does not disappoint.
A story about a young girl trying to step out of her sister’s shadow. Always being compared to her until she learns about her sister’s secrets and wonders who is the perfect daughter now. A great tale about immigrant life and imperfection.
This is a book series about queer men of color living in different cities. The most exciting and interesting aspect of this series is that the novels are written by an Afro-Latinx author and they are romance novels. For fans of the romance genre, these stories will entertain and satisfy your cravings.
A debut short story collection about sexuality, coming of age, and healing. This book is for anyone who has ever felt alone. Avila shows us empathy in these stories.
The only poetry collection in this list because the poems have stayed with me since reading them. Hair is a part of every woman’s life and Lozada-Oliva discusses it in such an alarmingly relatable way, you can’t help but nod your head at each verse. While the book is a quick read, the poems resonate long after putting the book down.
The only supernatural series on this list only because I’ve met Daniel and I love the way he made these stories as a social commentary on gentrification in a neighborhood predominantly with Afro-Caribbean residents. Enjoyable, entertaining, and funny.
Straight from the Kirkus Review: Eleven achingly realistic stories set in Denver and southern Colorado bear witness to the lives of Latina women of Indigenous descent trying to survive generations of poverty, racism, addiction, and violence. These stories are not to be missed.
I was a TA when I had to read this for a Chicanx Literature class. Only being familiar with Cisneros’ famous novel, The House on Mango Street, I devoured this short novel and enjoyed the way she made the story of a missing cat poignant. While the protagonist in the story searches for this cat, she sits with the grief from losing her mother. Lyrical and told in picture book style, it’s wonderfully rendered. Definitely a book for your personal library.
If you recognize the title of this book, this is the source material that inspired the film version starring America Ferrera. This play is an easy read and as a work that was published over twenty years ago, resonates. For San Francisco Bay Area residents, there will be performances at the SF Playhouse. Check the website for timing. Powerful then and even more powerful now.
There are so many books to read by Latinx/Hispanic authors lately and always. It’s a joy to see representation in such varied ways on the small screen and on the page.