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    50 Great Hispanic Novels EveryStudent Should Read

    September 1st, 2011

    Hispanic Heritage Month is coming up (September 15 to October 15), so there

    is no better time to celebrate the culture by picking up a novel by some of the

    greatest writers in its history. Hailing from South and Central America, Spain,

    the Caribbean and the United States alike, they offer insights not only into

    Hispanic traditions and norms, but some issues central to humanity itself lik

    time, love, mortality, passion and personal identity.

    Here, weve collected 50 books that are a great place to start your exploration

    Hispanic literature. Whether youre a college student majoring in Latin Americ

    studies, Spanish or something else entirely, these novels are great reads that

    are sure to stick with you well beyond this coming months celebrations.

    Spain

    There would be no Hispanic literature without Spain, so here are some of its

    best novels.

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    Don Quixoteby Miguel de Cervantes

    Hapless Alonso Quixano is an aging man,obsessed with books on chivalry. As he

    delves further into them, losing sleep and

    his sanity, he embarks on his own quests

    as a knight. A title that frequently tops list

    of best novels ever written, its a must-rea

    for any college student.

    1

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    Blog Archives

    Three Exemplary Novelsby Miguel

    de Unamuno

    Not a novel proper, but a series of shorter

    novellas, this work is perhaps one of the best

    written by the Spanish novelist, philosopher

    and playwright. Dont skip the prologue, as

    many feel it is the best part.

    2

    The Family of Pascual Duarteby

    Camilo Jose Cela

    Written in 1942 by Nobel Laureate Cela, this

    book caused an uproar when it was released

    and subsequently ended up banned. Why? Thenovel was part of the tremendismogenre, which

    is marked by extended and frequent violent

    scenes. Not for the faint of heart, it is

    nonetheless a great work of literature.

    3

    The Shadow of the Windby Carlos

    Ruiz Zafon

    This bestselling novel is set in post-Spanish

    Civil War Barcelona and focuses on a young

    boy who becomes entranced by a book he

    finds in a secret, old library. This leads him to

    seek more works by its enigmatic author

    4

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    with interesting results.

    All Soulsby Javier Marias

    At first glance, this novel appears to be about

    nothing much at all no murder, no intrigue

    yet for the careful reader, all of theseelements are bound up in the subtle prose.

    While fiction, it caused uproar at Oxford and

    Cambridge, as many professors thought the

    characters had been based on them.

    5

    A Heart So Whiteby Javier Marias

    With a title drawn from Macbeth, this ambitious

    novel chronicles the life of Juan, who is

    struggling to both understand and hide the pa

    (his own and his fathers) from himself.

    6

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    The Ratsby Miguel Delibes

    A leading literary figure in Spain after the Civil

    War, Delibes work made a splash both in his

    native Spain and abroad. One of his literary

    masterpieces, The Rats, builds a story around

    small autobiographical anecdotes surrounding a

    small Castilian village that has disappeared.

    7

    The Innocent Saintsby Miguel

    Dilibes

    Sometimes translated as The Holy

    Innocents, this 1981 novel follows the

    destruction of a rural Spanish family who

    suffer under caciques ruthless local

    leaders who use their power to sway politic

    in their favor.

    8

    Bartleby & Co. by Enrique Vila-Matas

    Drawing on characters like Mevilles Bartleby

    the Scrivener, this novel addresses some big

    questions in literature and life alike. Told

    through the point of view of a hunchback who

    himself cannot write, this award-winner is a

    great choice for any student of literature.

    9

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    Cathedral of the Seaby Ildefonso

    FalconesFalcones isnt a novelist by profession hes

    actually a high-profile lawyer but you

    wouldnt know it by reading this. Set in 14th

    century Barcelona at the height of the

    Inquisition, it traces the building of the Santa

    Maria del Mar Cathedral and the life of one

    young boy as he grows into a man during thos

    tumultuous times.

    10

    Soldiers of Salamisby Javier Cercas

    Blending real life with imagination, this nove

    follows a political prisoner during the Spanis

    Civil War. He survives through miraculous

    circumstances, and his story is told throughthe lens of a modern-day journalist

    investigating his life.

    11

    Time of Silenceby Luis Martin

    Santos

    Spanish psychiatrist and writer Santos rose to

    fame with the release of this novel, considered

    one of the 20th centurys greatest Spanish

    novels. It draws heavily on the literary devices

    12

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    employed by James Joyce, like stream of

    consciousness and interior monologues, to tel

    the story of a doctor accused of killing a

    woman who dies while he tries to help her.

    With sex and death central to the novel, it was

    considered racy in 1962 and ended up

    censored. It was not put out in full until almost20 years later.

    A Manuscript of Ashesby Antonio

    Munoz Molina

    Part history, part mystery and part love story,

    A Manuscript of Ashesfollows a young man

    who goes into hiding in his uncles country

    home to escape Francos police. There, he

    discovers a steamy love triangle, a murder

    and, potentially, a literary masterpiece.

    13

    The City of Marvelsby Eduardo

    Mendoza

    Written in the picaresque style, The City of

    Marvelscombines fantasy and history to

    vividly paint Barcelona at the turn of the

    century, caught between two disastrous

    Worlds Fairs. At the center of the novel is

    Onofre Bouvila, an unscrupulous young man

    who dives headfirst into the citys seamy

    underbelly.

    14

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    The Life Story of the Swindler called

    Don Pablosby Francisco de

    Quevedo y Villegas

    Perhaps more often referred to as El

    Buscon, this picaresque novel was written

    around 1600 and takes a satirical look at

    Spanish life, following a swindler who wants

    to learn and become both virtuous and a

    gentleman.

    15

    Usurpersby Franscisco Ayala

    This classic book contains seven short stories

    that focus on the theme of power, often in a

    highly negative and cautionary manner, with

    characters alluding to real-life figures.

    16

    Nadaby Carmen LaForet

    Sent to live with her crazy (not in the charming

    sense) relatives in post-Civil War Barcelona,

    the young girl at the heart of this novel is

    weighed down by more than just her family.

    The oppressive politics of the time, which,

    while never mentioned directly, are always

    looming in the background.

    17

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    Argentina

    Argentine authors have produced some amazing works of literature. He

    are just a few you should be sure to check out.

    Ficcionesby Jorge Luis Borges

    While this is not a novel, but a collection of

    short stories, we couldnt leave it off this list of

    great Hispanic literature. Ficcionesis not an

    easy read, but well worth the effort to learn

    more about one of the 20th centurys greatestwriters.

    18

    Kiss of the Spider Womanby Manuel

    Puig

    The name might be familiar to you through the

    Broadway production based on the novel. The

    book is almost entirely a dialogue, with no

    indication of who is speaking, and multiple

    plots and subplots can make it a challenging

    read, but the story at its heart makes it all

    worthwhile.

    19

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    Artificial Respirationby Ricardo

    Piglia

    Delving into complex issues of philosophy and

    political history, this book has been called one

    of the most important works of Latin American

    literature to come out in the past few decades.

    20

    Santa Evitaby Tomas Eloy MartinezMany Americans may not realize that the body

    of Eva Peron was preserved after her death,

    like that of Lenin, Mao and Stalin. This book

    masterfully blends the real life history of the

    political leaders corpse with the magic, myth

    and superstition she still elicits.

    21

    Rayuelaby Julio Cortazar

    This classic of Latin American literature centers

    on Horacio Oliveira, an Argentinean writer livingin Paris with his mistress. But when she

    disappears and his hedonistic stay in Paris

    comes to an end, everything is thrown into a

    tailspin.

    22

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    Chile

    If youve never picked up a book by one of these iconic Chilean authors

    September would be a great time to do so.

    The Witnessby Juan Jose Saer

    Cannibalism (as well as anthropology and

    semiotics) are at the center of this book. A

    young boy who the only survivor of a raid

    on his tribe lives with his captors and sees

    firsthand their often strange daily existence.

    23

    The Savage Detectivesby Roberto

    Bolano

    Based on Bolanos own life and experiences as

    a writer, this book follows a young literati

    through Mexico, Barcelona, Israel and Libya.

    24

    2666by Roberto Bolano25

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    Released to critical acclaim, this novel is

    unarguably one of Bolanos best. It is, howeve

    a long book. At over 900 pages, it may take

    you awhile to get through the engaging story.

    The House of the Spiritsby Isabel

    AllendeThis novel helped rocket Allende to literary

    stardom and for good reason. Based on a

    letter she was writing to her dying grandfather

    it traces several generations of the Trueba

    family, employing the magical realism made s

    famous by writers like Marquez.

    26

    Ines of My Soulby Isabelle Allende

    Packed with romance, politics and heroism,

    this novel tells the story of Dona Ines Suarez

    a real life conquistadorain the 16th century.

    27

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    South America

    These authors hail from South American nations like Uruguay, Peru,

    Columbia, Paraguay and Brazil.

    The Obscene Bird of the Nightby

    Jose Donoso

    Regarded by many great authors and artists

    as one of the best works of Spanish language

    literature ever created, this book is well worth

    any bibliophiles time. It is not an easy read,

    but it is an engaging one, exploring the darke

    side of magical realism.

    28

    Feast of the Goatby Mario VargasLlosa

    Learn more about life in the Dominican

    Republic during the final days of Trujillos

    brutal and bloody rule in this novel

    interweaving the tales of three characters: the

    daughter of his secretary of state, a group of

    assassins and the cruel dictator himself.

    29

    The Storytellerby Mario Vargas

    Llosa

    30

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    Peruvian author Llosa tells the story of a man

    (based on a real life friend) who leaves

    civilization behind and becomes a storyteller

    for a group of Indians, drawing on many

    stereotypes and myths even the most

    educated have about native peoples.

    One Hundred Years of Solitudeby

    Gabriel Garcia Marquez

    If you read only one Hispanic novel on this listhis would make a great choice. Winning

    Marquez the Nobel Prize for Literature in 198

    (and many other awards as well), it is

    considered one of the greatest works of

    modern lit.

    31

    Love in the Time of Choleraby

    Gabriel Garcia Marquez

    One of the most acclaimed novels of the 20t

    century, this romantic tale centers on a youn

    man who falls hopelessly in love with a

    woman, never wavering in his passion for he even when she marries.

    32

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    The Queen of Americaby Jorge

    Majfud

    Uruguayan author Majfud brings to life the

    tragic tale of a young girl dragged to South

    America by her father, undergoing

    heartbreak, rape, dictatorship and madness

    along the way.

    33

    A Brief Lifeby Juan Carlos Onetti

    Breusen, the character central to this

    acclaimed novel, escapes his dreary

    existence by channeling his consciousness

    into other people some real and some

    imagined.

    34

    Agostoby Rubem Fonseca

    Considered this Brazilian authors best work,

    Agosto("August" in English) documents

    Brazils tumultuous 1954 elections, blending

    fiction and history to illuminate one of the

    greatest political comebacks in the nations

    history.

    35

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    Mexico

    Learn more about Mexican history and culture through these amazing

    books.

    The Alchemistby Paulo Coelho

    One of the bestselling books of all time, The

    Alchemisthas been translated into hundreds

    languages and read by people around the

    globe. Its an inspiring tale of a young boy wh

    follows his dream against all odds.

    36

    I, the Supremeby Augusto Roa

    Bastos

    Paraguayan author Bastos fictionalizes the life

    of 19th century dictator Jose Gaspar Rodriguede Francia in this novel, showcasing his

    hunger for power and the cruelty with which h

    inflicts much suffering.

    37

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    The Old Gringoby Carlos Fuentes

    The author Ambrose Beirce joined Pancho

    Villas forces in 1914, never to be seen again.

    In this book, Fuentes imagines the story of

    what happened, dealing beautifully with subjec

    matter like colonialism, love, death, war and

    culture clashes.

    38

    Like Water for Chocolateby LauraEsquivel

    When the man she loves marries her sister

    and she is forced to prepare the wedding

    dinner, young Tita expresses her passion,

    frustration and unhappiness through her

    cooking.

    39

    News from the Empireby Fernando

    Del Paso

    A cautionary tale of empire building, this

    novel chronicles the disastrous reign of

    Ferdinand and Carlota of Belgium over

    Mexico.

    40

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    Caribbean and Central America

    The Lost Stepsby Alejo Carpentier

    Carpentiers most celebrated novel, the story

    follows a composer as he journeys to a place

    utterly untouched by the outside world and

    studies primitive instruments and the meaning

    to their respective cultures. What he finds,

    however, is much deeper.

    41

    Waiting for Snow in Havanaby

    Carlos EireEires story is not fiction, but a memoir of an

    event most Americans never even knew

    happened. In the early 1960s more than

    fourteen thousand Cuban children were taken

    from their parents and deposited in Miami,

    leaving them to fend for themselves.

    42

    YO-YO BOING!by Giannina Braschi

    The first novel written in Spanglish, this

    novel shifts between two both tongues,

    making it an accessible read for students

    43

    http://www.amazon.com/Lost-Steps-Alejo-Carpentier/dp/0816638071/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1314050981&sr=1-1http://www.amazon.com/Waiting-Snow-Havana-Confessions-Cuban/dp/0743246411/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1314051960&sr=1-1http://www.amazon.com/Yo-Yo-Discoveries-American-Literary-Spanish/dp/0935480978/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1314051139&sr=1-1http://www.amazon.com/Yo-Yo-Discoveries-American-Literary-Spanish/dp/0935480978/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1314051139&sr=1-1http://www.amazon.com/Waiting-Snow-Havana-Confessions-Cuban/dp/0743246411/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1314051960&sr=1-1http://www.amazon.com/Lost-Steps-Alejo-Carpentier/dp/0816638071/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1314050981&sr=1-1
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    United States

    studying Spanish language and literature.

    Energetic, full of pop culture references and

    relatable, readers will find this book a fun

    and engaging read.

    The Presidentby Miguel Angel

    Asturias

    Winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature, this

    novel tells the tale of a ruthless dictator and hi

    schemes to rid himself of a political adversary

    Set in Asturias native Guatemala, it draws

    heavily on his experiences as a diplomat and

    journalist to create a realistic and beautiful tale

    about life under an oppressive dictatorship.

    44

    The House on Mango Streetby

    Sandra CisnerosThis short novel is perfect for rainy afternoon

    reading. Central to the novel is a young girl

    named Esperanza, who is coming of age in a

    Chicagoan Mexican and Puerto Rican

    neighborhood. She flounders in desperation to

    leave her impoverished life behind and move

    on to bigger and better things.

    45

    http://www.amazon.com/President-Miguel-Angel-Asturias/dp/0881339512/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1314051156&sr=1-1http://www.amazon.com/House-Mango-Street-Sandra-Cisneros/dp/0679734775/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1314051893&sr=1-1http://www.amazon.com/House-Mango-Street-Sandra-Cisneros/dp/0679734775/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1314051893&sr=1-1http://www.amazon.com/President-Miguel-Angel-Asturias/dp/0881339512/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1314051156&sr=1-1
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    The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar

    Waoby Junot Diaz

    Diazs novel is simultaneously a story about

    the doomed life of an awkward and geeky

    young man and a history lesson on the brutal

    dictatorship that shook the Dominican

    Republic.

    46

    Bless Me, Ultimaby Rudolfo Anaya

    Part of a trilogy, this award winner has landed

    on many banned book lists for its depiction of

    witchcraft and violence. Its an undeserved

    reputation for an incredibly important read that

    blends folklore, religion and coming of age

    issues into one beautifully written work.

    47

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    In the Time of Butterfliesby Julia

    Alvarez

    Set in the Dominican Republic during the

    Trujillo dictatorship, this novel tells a

    fictionalized version of real life events

    surrounding three sisters murdered for their

    roles in a plot to overthrow the government.

    48

    And the Earth Did Not Devour Himby

    Tomas Rivera

    A compilation of short stories and vignettes

    rather than a novel proper, this collection

    helped expose many of the abuses and horro

    faced by migrant workers in the 1940s and

    1950s. Disturbing, tragic and beautiful, it is an

    essential read for anyone interested in Hispan

    lit.

    49

    Llamame Brooklynby Eduardo Lago

    While Lago is a Spanish-born writer, he lives

    and writes in America, and this book chronicle

    his experience living abroad. Llamame Brookly

    (or Call Me Brooklyn) was inspired by Lagos

    own time in the US. It details the life of a young

    man struggling to come to terms with his

    Spanish identity while residing in New York wi

    his adopted family.

    50

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