Contemporary Spanish language fiction recommendations
November 3, 2013 9:54 AM   Subscribe

I would like some recommendations for contemporary Spanish language fiction. I would like recommendations for authors who might not be well known outside of the Spanish-speaking world and not as likely to be translated, who write literary fiction. I am already familiar with authors well known outside the Spanish-speaking world, such as Borges, Mario Vargas Llosa, Isabel Allende, Gabriel García Márquez. So I would like recommendations that expand my Spanish language reading horizon. For reference, English-language authors I enjoyed reading recently include Don DeLillo, Thomas Pynchon, and Margaret Atwood. (Portuguese language recommendations are also welcome, as I can read in both languages.)
posted by research monkey to Writing & Language (10 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
I think only one volume of short stories by Juan José Millás has been translated into English, and I can tell you that's good. But there's a lot more untranslated stuff to explore.
posted by Monsieur Caution at 10:12 AM on November 3, 2013

He's not totally unknown outside the Spanish-speaking world, but Arturo Perez-Reverte might be along the lines of what you're looking for.
posted by veggieboy at 10:24 AM on November 3, 2013

In Portuguese I am reading A Máquina de Joseph Walser by Gonçalo M. Tavares (warning: Portuguese author and editing). The author was recommended to me as falling in about exactly the category you are looking for, and definitely matches. This is a straightforward read but can be re-read if you feel so inspired, to pick out the deeper parts of the book. Like you would with The Little Prince, though this story is darker in an Atwood way.
posted by whatzit at 11:24 AM on November 3, 2013 [2 favorites]

Roberto Bollano is not unknown at all outside of the Spanish-speaking world, but you don't mention him and will probably be a good match if you like DeLillo and Pynchon.
posted by Dr Dracator at 11:28 AM on November 3, 2013

Many of his books are available in English translation, but maybe Javier Cercas and his back catalog? His books play around with autobiography and memoir; Borges is a clear influence. The first part of his La velocidad de la luz features characters who have lots of loving conversations about literature, both English-language and Spanish -- which accidentally introduced me-the-reader to some new authors myself. (It was through that book that I discovered Mercè Rodoreda's La plaça del diamant, which is stellar and, although originally in Catalan, is widely available in Spanish translation.)

Alejo Carpentier is also widely available in English, but maybe slightly less well-known than the other authors you cited? El siglo de las luces is about cousins in late 18th-century Cuba who watch revolutions sweep across the Atlantic, and it is one of my favorite books ever.

Maybe you'd be interested in works by recent winners of the Premio Cervantes?
posted by cabezadevaca at 12:15 PM on November 3, 2013

Jose Saramago's Blindness and The Cave. Anything by Javier Marias, but Corazon tan Blanco is a fav. Cesar Aira's How I Became A Nun.
posted by Joeruckus at 1:32 PM on November 3, 2013

El enredo de la bolsa (2012) by Eduardo Mendoza is my girlfriend’s favorite novel (so far) from her grad class on Spanish lit. Lo que me queda por vivir (2010) by Elvira Lindo is a close second.
posted by vkxmai at 3:36 PM on November 3, 2013

I had a much longer post written, but I can only read this literature in English translation, and I don't want to assume a lack of familiarity with Cortazar and Bolaño and all the other greats.

Have you read anything by Horacio Castellanos Moya? He seems to have written quite a bit, with only four or five of his works translated into English. Of all of them out so far, Senselessness had an absolutely merciless cutting edge to it, and I re-read it every so often.

I also quite enjoyed the two novels currently out by Alejandro Zambra. I think he has a third published in Spanish, and I'm waiting for a soft cover version.
posted by hototogisu at 6:56 PM on November 3, 2013

Julio Cortazar is great. Quirky, ironic, funny, sometimes scifi(ish). I find him relatively easy to read in Spanish. Lot's of great short stories. My favorite is Carta a una señorita en París

Whoops I just vomited a little bunny.
posted by Che boludo! at 9:25 PM on November 3, 2013

Laura Restrepo. Delirio would be my recommendation for a very literary feel. Of note: it won the Premio Alfaguara, which I would strongly recommend you mine for additional books (it's a prestigious Spanish language literary fiction prize). Another author I recognize from the Alfaguara list is Elena Poniatowska though I've no specific recs for her works.
posted by librarylis at 9:48 PM on November 4, 2013

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