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The Good, the Bad and the Evil: Supernatural and Spooky Works by Latinx Writers

Latinx are hardly strangers to supernatural folklore and magical realism has long been an essential element in some of the most renowned literature hailing from Latin America. That said, it should come as no surprise that the Latinas featured on this list tap into the creepier, darker sides of our cultura to develop their own supernatural page-turners. Imbued with Latinx folklore, inspired by supernatural staples like vampires, or a creepy tale that’s truly one-of-a-kind, the following works are an ode to the macabre and the spooky so read with caution and maybe some sage.

Valeria Luiselli

Valeria Luiselli is one of Mexico’s most celebrated writers and her book “The Story of my Teeth” is a creepy and strange adventure that tells the life of a man through his dientes. Gustavo Sánchez Sánchez, known as “Highway” is the unreliable narrator auctioning his teeth claiming they belonged to the likes of Plato, Petrarch, and Virginia Woolf. Highway’s journey to sell his teeth becomes an opportunity to share his story, and that includes a magical encounter with malevolent clowns that only adds to the delusions of the narrator. Born in 1983, Luiselli lives in the Bronx and received the National Book Foundation ‘5 under 35’ award.

Learn more about her on our list of acclaimed Mexican writers.

Zoraida Córdova

Ecuadorian writer Zoraida Córdova is known for her “Brooklyn Brujas” series that features reluctant brujas, magic, and even Death herself. The first book in the series, “Labyrinth Lost,” won an International Latino Book Award and has been optioned by Paramount. She’s also published the “The Vicious Deep” trilogy about mermaids not of the Disney persuasion but rather razor-toothed, and has also included mermen, and a Kraken. Córdova is acclaimed for her unique voice in the paranormal genre in YA literature and is currently working on the third book in the Brujas series set for release next year.

Samanta Schweblin

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Cultura. Samanta Schweblin. Es una de las autoras argentinas más exitosas. Sus historias de fantasía y terror cautivan cada día a más lectores. Secretos de su estilo. Para la promoción de la última novela de Samanta Schweblin, “Kentukis”, la editorial que publica sus libros instaló grandes afiches en puntos estratégicos de la ciudad. Por estos días, cualquier transeúnte atento podrá descubrir el bello retrato de la escritora que ilustra la campaña, en estaciones de subte, colectivos y paredes vacías de Buenos Aires. Un despliegue inusual para el alicaído mercado editorial argentino que, más conservador que nunca, sólo apuesta sobre seguro. Y es que, aunque a primera vista la literatura de Schweblin está muy alejada de las fórmulas de los bestsellers habituales, algo en la química de sus textos -fantasía, terror y angustia psicológica combinados con un estilo impecable- funciona cada vez mejor en la Argentina y el mundo. Desde su primer libro de cuentos – “El núcleo del disturbio” (Booket)- hasta hoy, su narrativa ha ganado calidad, consolidándose como una voz muy personal dentro del panorama literario local. La lista de sus reconocimientos ya es muy larga. Por ejemplo, ganó el premio de Narrativa Breve Rivera del Duero en 2015 por su colección de cuentos “Siete casas vacías” (Páginas de espuma). También en 2017 fue seleccionada finalista del Man Booker International Prize por “Distancia de rescate” (Random House), su libro más celebrado, que además le permitió quedarse con el premio Tournament of Books y el Shirley Jackson, un galardón en homenaje a la gran autora de terror norteamericana. Justamente, ahora, Schweblin trabaja en una adaptación al cine de esta novela corta que le ha dado tantas satisfacciones, junto a la directora peruana Claudia Llosa. Nota en completa en Revista Noticias. Foto: Juan Ferrari @juanferrari1618 #revistanoticias #cultura #escritores #samantaschweblin #juanferrari

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Argentine author Samanta Schweblin has received acclaim for her terrifying psychological thriller “Fever Dream”. The ghost story serves as a grotesque page-turner where a dying woman in a clinic in Argentina is interrogated by a child named David about the events that led to her illness. It’s a vivid and surrealist cautionary tale about the dangers of toxins. Schweblin lives in Berlin and has had her work translated into more than 20 languages, the English translation of “Fever Dream” was released in 2017.

Learn more about her on our list of acclaimed Argentine writers.

Guadalupe Garcia McCall

Award-winning poet and writer Guadalupe Garcia McCall was inspired by her Mexican roots when she developed the young adult novel “The Summer of Mariposas”. The book tells the story of Odilla and her four sisters who find a dead body and set out on a journey to return him to his family in Mexico. Their return to Texas is filled with supernatural elements including La Llorona herself, a bruja, a coven of half-human barn owls and even chupacabras. The novel is a celebration of sisterhood and has been described as the Mexican-American interpretation of the “The Odyssey”. McCall was born in Piedras Negras, Coahuila and resides in San Antonio where she works as a high school English teacher.

Silvia Moreno-Garcia

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Mexican-Canadian novelist Silvia Moreno-Garcia is known for science fictions works for which she has won numerous accolades including the World Fantasy Award. From sorcery in Mexico City (“Signal to Noise”) to narco-vampires in Mexico City in “Certain Dark Things”, Moreno-Garcia books showcase a dark and other-worldly side of Mexico filled with magical elements and imaginative prose. She is the publisher of Innsmouth Free Press and also co-edits The Jewish Mexican Literary Review and the horror magazine The Dark.

Kathleen Alcalá

Kathleen Alcalá’s debut book “Mrs. Vargas and the Dead Naturalist” was critically acclaimed and awarded the King County Publication Award in 1992. The Mexican-American writer published the collection of 14 stories set in the Southwest and Mexico and infused with magical realism. Her debut novel “Spirits of the Ordinary” weaves together folklore and fantasy through the story a Jewish family in Mexico made up of an alchemist, a clairvoyant and a gold-obsessed and rebellious son. Magical realism once again plays a part in her writing, reminiscent of Isabel Allende’s iconic book “The House of Spirits.” Alcalá lives in Washington and teaches creative writing.

Yvonne Navarro

True horror fiction fans will delight in Yvonne Navarro’s 1993 debut novel “Afterage”, a finalist for the Bram Stoker award for Superior Achievement in a First Novel. The story takes place in downtown Chicago after a vampire uprising that destroyed the human race and what remains of them is now reserved as food for the undead. A team of mortal guerrillas unites to set the captives free using what knowledge they have to defeat the vampires. Navarro is lzo known for contributing to the “Buffyverse” having written seven novels inspired by “Buffy the Vampire Slayer”.

Read: Latinas Are Gearing Up for Dia De Los Muertos With The Most Bright And Dreamy Altars We’ve Seen Yet

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Latina Reads: Puerto Rican Author Lilliam Rivera Discusses Upcoming YA Latinx Feminist Novel

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Latina Reads: Puerto Rican Author Lilliam Rivera Discusses Upcoming YA Latinx Feminist Novel

Lilliam Rivera has written two novels featuring strong Latinx female characters including her latest Dealing in Dreams. The Puerto Rican YA author released The Education of Margot Sanchez in 2017, a romantic coming of age story set in South Bronx that explored family dysfunction and the importance of being true to yourself. Born in Manhattan and raised in the Bronx, Rivera penned the ode to her hometown after relocating to Los Angeles. The book was nominated for the 2017 Best Fiction for Young Adult Fiction by the Young Adult Library Services Association and Rivera has also been awarded fellowships from PEN Center USA, A Room Of Her Own Foundation, and received a grant from the Elizabeth George Foundation and the Speculative Literature Foundation.

In Dealing in Dreams, Rivera takes readers on the kind of fantasy adventure she imagines her teenage self would’ve wanted to read. The feminist dystopic novel is clearly influenced by Latinx culture following the adventures of sixteen-year-old Nalah and her all-girl crew Las Mal Criadas and her dreams of escaping Mega City to the exclusive Mega Towers. Read on to learn about the strong Latinx women in the book, why she chose to portray toxic femininity, and how immigration came into play. The book will be out March 5 and she’ll be talking at bookstores throughout the U.S.

The story focuses on an all-girl crew, can you tell me more about Las Mal Criadas and how you developed these characters?

Nalah is the sixteen-year-old leader of Las Mal Criadas, an all-girl crew who patrol the streets of Mega City. They are notoriously fierce but Nalah is wary of the violent life. She believes the way off the streets is securing a home in the exclusive Mega Towers where her leader Déesse lives. She’ll do anything to reach that goal. I wrote a draft of Dealing In Dreams six years ago and Nalah came to me first. I had just given birth to my second daughter and there were people, mostly women, who remarked how my dream of being a published author would have to be placed on hold. Rage can be a great incentive for generating art. I refuse to be pigeonholed. I wrote this draft while taking care of a newborn and I put it away for six years, workshopping a chapter here and there, until a year ago when I returned to the manuscript and still felt its relevance.

Can you describe Mega City and the Mega Towers and their significance in the story?

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I based the concept of the Mega Towers on the housing projects I grew up in the South Bronx. The Twin Park West Housing Projects is a U-shaped structure connected by three buildings. With the Bronx slowly being gentrified I could just imagine how these buildings will soon be so desirable for those in power. In Dealing In Dreams, the towers are the only structure that survived the Big Shake, a man-made disaster caused by drilling. The Mega Towers is where the elite live and it’s where Nalah believes she can secure a home for her crew if she plays by this society’s rules. There are a couple of hints that Mega City is the Bronx but only a person from there would discover those Easter eggs.

The book is being described as a feminist Latinx dystopia and The Outsiders meets Mad Max so suffice it to say it’s a fierce book, how would you describe it to someone who is unfamiliar with the genre? 

I would describe Dealing In Dreams as a young adult book about a girl who grew up in a violent world and must decide if that path is truly her only salvation to a better life.

There is a very clear Latinx influence in the city and characters, why was that important to you?

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I grew up reading so many science fiction and fantasy novels (Ray Bradbury, George Orwell…) and didn’t see any of my people in them. Where were the Puerto Rican girls from the Bronx crushing monsters? The same holds true of current films. I love Star Wars and have watched it hundreds of times but how amazing is it that my kids get to see Oscar Isaac being a part of the Star Wars canon? The future I envision in my novels is very brown and very black, just like my upbringing. I want to write Latinx characters that are flawed and heroic, who fall in love and discover their voice.

This is your second time writing a teenage Latinx protagonist, why is it important to you to tell these stories through the lens of a Latina?

These are the type of stories I craved for when I was young, desperately trying to connect with protagonists in novels. I think there’s more than enough room in bookstores and libraries for different Latina stories.

You take toxic masculinity and flip it to women instead, what was your intent in doing this?

There’s this great image of activist Angela Peoples taken during the Women’s March. Angela holds up a sign that reads “Don’t Forget: White Women Voted for Trump.” I thought of that image when I was rewriting the novel. I also kept thinking of how our own people will gladly throw us under the bus in order to secure a place beside someone in power. Sometimes our own family are quick to lead us to destruction. I wanted to explore those two realities in Dealing In Dreams.

What are some of the main concepts you wanted to tackle when you wrote this book and why?

I was thinking of books I’ve read that inspired me as a young person such as Anthony Burgess A Clockwork Orange and S.E. Hinton’s The Outsiders. I was drawn to their violence and also to the idea of formed families. I wanted to explore this idea of blood family versus the family you create but I wanted to come from the point of view of a Latina.

The idea of finding a better home is a concept that’s all too real for many Latinx in the US, was it a conscious decision to have Nalah’s journey mirror the immigrant experience in a sense?

@lilliamr / Instagram

The quest for home is so rooted in my family’s history. My parents left Puerto Rico to find a better home in New York. Each decision they made, however hard, was made with the intention of providing us with the tools to succeed. Almost everyone who wants to enter the United States come with that hope. There’s an amazing painting by the artist Judithe Hernández titled “La Muerte De Los Inocentes” and it is of a child who clutches a ribbon that states: “We come but to dream.” I feel that painting really captures Nalah’s journey and the journey of so many who come to the U.S. searching for a better life.

There’s a lot of action in this book, what was it like writing those scenes featuring all women?

I had the best time writing those scenes! I think it’s so rare to see young women owning their strength on the page and not being afraid to use it. I love that my characters are unapologetic about it. I also didn’t want to give the reader a chance to rest, to think of putting the book down, so I tried to inject as much action as I could.

What do you want readers to take away from Dealing in Dreams?

I want readers to be transported to a place that looks at times familiar and completely new. I want Nalah, Truck, Nena and the rest of Las Mal Criadas to leave an imprint on the readers long after they read the last page.

Read: YA Writer Tehlor Kay Mejia’s Debut Fantasy Book is a Feminist Story of Forbidden Love and Oppression

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These Books by Latina Authors Prove that Latinx Writers and The People Who Publish Them Understand the Real America

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These Books by Latina Authors Prove that Latinx Writers and The People Who Publish Them Understand the Real America

Our LGBTQ hating, xenophobic Vice President, Mike Pence will hate the upcoming middle-grade book, The Moon Within by Aida Salazar, and the publishing industry doesn’t care. The Moon Within about Celi Rivera, a young bi-racial Puerto Rican and Mexican girl who dances bomba and has a gender fluid best friend is set to be published by Scholastic later this month. While Latinx folks are still largely ignored on television and in film, publishers of middle-grade and young adult books know there’s a market for books about people of color and LGBTQ folks.

Hailed, by Kirkus Reviews, as a “worthy successor to Are You There God, It’s Me Margaret by Judy Blume, The Moon Within is written in an elegant, swift verse.

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It tells the story of the budding Celi, a young accomplished dancer whose mother insists on announcing to the whole family that Celi is developing into a woman and insisting on holding a pre-Colombian style moon ceremony when Celi starts her first period.

At twelve, I read and loved Are You There God, It’s Me Margaret, and as a small-for-my-age, Xicana, I identified with Margaret who felt her body was developing slower than those of her school friends. I also understood that the lavender covered book with the very blonde girl on the cover who wanted to “get her period” was very different kind of book than books like Little House on the Prairie that I had also read and loved, despite their flaws. But as a Xicana raised by a single mom in a run-down small town, the only place we could really afford to live in California, I felt distanced from Margaret’s life in many other ways. Her suburban neighborhood with sidewalks, her tidy house, her busy but attentive mother, and a father who worked and drove her to parties at friends’ houses, all seemed very far away and very white to me.

Judy Blume wrote for all children, but Are You There God, It’s Me Margaret is about a particular social class of girl, while Salazar’s The Moon Within is about family that is rich in other ways, culturally rich, artistically rich, and deeply rooted by their particularly close and caring community of artists and healers.

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Celi’s mom, an herbal healer, who grows herbs in the yard is actually, however, similar to Margaret’s mother in that she wishes to help her daughter to grow into womanhood without shame. Interestingly, the particular brand of the shame that both mothers hope to help their daughters avoid is rooted in Christianity. Celi’s mom, Mima, rejects the misogyny of Catholicism that encourages women to fear and despise their bodies, bodies that have the capability to give life  — and that’s all they’d do if Mike Pence had anything to with it.

And it’s this impulse of conservative men to dirty everything that isn’t cis-male centered that The Moon Within is such an important book right now and ever, especially in light of the racist and homophobic attack that severely injured, Empire’s, Jussie Smollet.

In a recent appearance on Late Night with Stephen Colbert, queer actor, Ellen Page, called out Mike Pence, blaming the Trump administration’s outward hate for the LGBTQ community,  “Connect the dots,” she said, “this is what happens if you are in a position of power,” referring to the attack on Smollet. She continued, “and you hate people and you want to cause suffering to them, you go through the trouble, you spend your career wanting to cause suffering, what do you think is going to happen. People are going to be abused and they’re going to kills themselves, and they are going to die in the street.”

Children’s books agents– a surprising number of whom are people of color, like Marieta B. Zacker of Salazar at Gallt & Zacker Literary Agency and  Amara Hoshijo at Soho Press– seem to know that even and even though equity and decency for all has seemed to have reversed in our country, that books like The Moon Within are the antidote to hatred, bigotry, and ignorance amongst the actual people who make up America.

As former pre-school teacher who did much of the book ordering for my pre-school library, and a current English professor, it’s comforting to know that the education of America’s children, is somewhat in the hand of these agents and publishers willing to listen.

It seems that publishing children’s, middle-grade and YA books by and about people of color is no longer considered a risk.

After the publication of Celia C Perez’s The First Rule of Punk, we can officially all stop being surprised by the fact middle-grade and young adult book publishers are the seemingly most willing to publish books about people who exist in the real world that their counterparts in the past would have considered niche: Latinx kids who are into punk, Latinx kids with parents who are artists, or young Latinx feminists, as in the upcoming We Set the Dark on Fire, by Tehlor Kay Mejia and several other books written for middle-graders and young adults set for publication this spring and summer.

Pues, check out this list of exciting books about to be published and remember that pre-ordering these books is not only the best way to support the authors, but it also guarantees that your chamaquitx won’t have to wait to read books about characters who look and/or have lives like theirs.

We Set the Dark on Fire, by Tehlor Kay Mejia

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This fiercely feminist YA novel features a young Latina who attends a prestigious school under the pretense that she is not a member of the upper echelons, a fact that she must keep hidden in order to have a chance of success in the real world. Apparently, fans of The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood are bound to love this debut by Mejia. This Xicana dystopian lit nerd eagerly awaits the release and the accolades that will surely follow.

All Of Us With Wings, by Michelle Ruiz Keil

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Or if you liked 2017s The First Rule of Punk by Celia C. Perez, you should pre-order the YA, All of Us With Wings, by Michelle Ruiz Keil, a book set in San Francisco and blends Aztec rituals and punk rock.

The Grief Keeper, by Alexandra Villasante

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Available in June, The Grief Keeper, by Alexandra Villasante features a young Salvadoran girl who must leave El Salvador and attempt to cross into the US after her brother is murdered in order to save herself and her younger sister’s life.

The Last Eight, by Laura Pohl

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Perhaps you know a young reader who likes to read science fiction, due for publication in March, The Last Eight, by Brazilian author, Laura Pohl, is about Clover Martinez, one of the last eight teenagers left on Earth, teenagers who survive an alien attack.


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