The Latin America Challenge

/ posted in: Reading

In 2017 I challenged myself to read more books set in Asia.  I had noticed that it was an area of the world that I was missing in my reading.  I did much better with that goal so this year I’ve decided to tackle another neglected area of the world in my reading – Latin America.

Every year I look at my reading map and say, “Poor South America, ignored again.” I might have 1 or 2 books on the whole continent.  I’m going to fix that this year.  I’m looking for books set Latin America and the Caribbean.  I would like them to either be nonfiction or fiction written by an author who is from that country or who lived there for a while.  The problem is finding the books.  When I think of Latin American literature, I think of heavy, depressing books by men.  Maybe that is just my impression of the literary fiction that gets translated.  What else is out there?  Are there good genre books that I should know about?

Here’s what I’ve come up with on my TBR so far.


Certain Dark ThingsCertain Dark Things by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

“Vampires, humans, cops, and gangsters collide in the dark streets of Mexico City.”

This is the kind of thing I’m looking for.  Urban fantasy, chick lit, etc instead of heavy literary fiction.


The True History of ChocolateThe True History of Chocolate by Sophie D. Coe

“Cultivated by slaves, consumed by the elite, paid out as a tribute to conquerors, this tale of one of the world’s favourite foods draws upon botany, archaeology, socio-economics and culinary history to provide a complete history of chocolate, beginning 3000 years ago in the jungles of Mexico.”

Well, obviously I’m going to read this.  I actually have this one at home.


The Last Flight of the Scarlet Macaw: One Woman's Fight to Save the World's Most Beautiful BirdThe Last Flight of the Scarlet Macaw: One Woman’s Fight to Save the World’s Most Beautiful Bird by Bruce Barcott

“Beloved as “the Zoo Lady” in her adopted land, Matola became one of Central America’s greatest wildlife defenders. And when powerful outside forces conspired with the local government to build a dam that would flood the nesting ground of the last scarlet macaws in Belize, Sharon Matola was drawn into the fight of her life. In The Last Flight of the Scarlet Macaw, award-winning author Bruce Barcott chronicles Sharon Matola’s inspiring crusade to stop a multinational corporation in its tracks.”




The SeamstressThe Seamstress by Frances de Pontes Peebles

“As seamstresses, the young sisters Emília and Luzia dos Santos know how to cut, how to mend, and how to conceal. These are useful skills in the lawless backcountry of Brazil, where ruthless land barons called “colonels” feud with bands of outlaw cangaceiros, trapping innocent residents in the cross fire.”



The News from ParaguayThe News from Paraguay by Lily Tuck


“The year is 1854. In Paris, Francisco Solano — the future dictator of Paraguay — begins his courtship of the young, beautiful Irish courtesan Ella Lynch with a poncho, a Paraguayan band, and a horse named Mathilde. Ella follows Franco to Asunción and reigns there as his mistress. Isolated and estranged in this new world, she embraces her lover’s ill-fated imperial dream — one fueled by a heedless arrogance that will devastate all of Paraguay.”

Falkland Islands

A Little Piece of England: My Adventures as Chief Executive of the Falkland IslandsA Little Piece of England: My Adventures as Chief Executive of the Falkland Islands by Andrew Gurr

“In 1994, Andrew Gurr was perusing the employment pages of the Sunday Times when an advertisement caught his eye: “Wanted: Chief Executive of the Falkland Islands Government.” Intrigued, he decided to follow it up. Nobody was more surprised than Andrew when, a few months later, he was offered the position. What followed was 5 remarkable years on a remarkable island, doing the most curious job that can be imagined.”

I’ve started this one and I have mixed feelings.

And that’s what I have so far. Any other suggestions?

Here are some books I’ve read in the past few years that would fit into this challenge too if, you know, I hadn’t already read them.