Cummins, who has one Puerto Rican grandparent, received a seven-figure deal for
American Dirt, which also landed on Oprah’s Book Club and garnered praise from several publications. This level of support isn’t the reality for most Latinx authors, who typically do not have the same opportunities to overcome institutional barriers. They are overlooked for not fitting into the publishing industry’s narrow definition of Latinidad. In those rare moments that Latinx authors, among other marginalized groups, do find success within traditional publishing, they are still not given the same roll-out or promotion.
While the publishing industry is slow to change even after the
American Dirt controversy illustrated how archaic it is, we can do our part by supporting Latinx authors, who are using their own experiences to tell authentic stories about the many facets of their cultures. Many of these writers may not always get the attention they deserve, but that's not stopping them from telling our stories in nuanced ways, across a variety of genres. So, that you can get a start in picking up their titles, here’s a diverse array of books by Latinx authors worth checking out in 2021. 1 of 10 One of the Good Ones, Maika Moulite and Maritza Moulite When Kezi Smith, a teen social activist, is killed after attending a rally, her sisters Happi and Genny set out to honor her. But as Kezi is remembered as “one of the good ones,” Happi begins to question why only some people are worthy of sympathy in this young adult novel that explores sisterhood and prejudice. 2 of 10 Latinx Photography in the United States: A Visual History, Elizabeth Ferrer Pieced together through more than 80 interviews, Elizabeth Ferrer traces the history of Latinx photography in the United States—from everyday moments in East Harlem to the United Farm Workers’ picket lines in California’s Central Valley. With the work of these photographers excluded from the history of photography in the United States, Latinx Photography explores how their images have shaped our communities — and the country. 3 of 10 Muted, Tami Charles (February 2) Inspired by a true story, Muted looks at the dark side of the music industry. Denver, 17, aspires to become a musician. When she and best friends Dali and Shak get on the radar of Sean “Mercury” Ellis, one of the biggest R&B stars, they’re suddenly invited to the hottest parties and events, as well as the recording studio. And for Denver, who wants to escape her small, mostly white town, things are great at first, until she realizes that she needs to take control or lose herself in this world. 4 of 10 Brother, Sister, Mother, Explorer, Jamie Figueroa (March 2) After siblings Rafa and Rufina’s mother dies, the two make a bet: If they can earn enough money to get out of Ciudad de Tres Hermanas, Rafa has to commit to living. If they don’t, then Rufina has to accept Rafa’s own plans. It’s an emotional novel about grief and the many ways it affects one. 5 of 10 What's Mine and Yours, Naima Coster (March 2) Told through multiple points of view, What’s Mine and Yours is a sweeping novel that follows two families in a Piedmont, North Carolina community as the predominantly white high schools on the west side of town are integrated. When Gee, a sensitive and anxious Black teen, and Noelle, whose mother refuses to acknowledge her Latina heritage, join the school play, their lives and the lives of their families become intertwined in unexpected and complicated ways over two decades. 6 of 10 Of Women and Salt, Gabriela Garcia (March 30) Starting in Miami, Jeanette takes in a neighbor’s daughter after U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement detains her parents. As she tries to repair her relationship with her own mother and learn more about her family’s history, she decides to travel to Cuba to seek answers from her grandmother. Following five generations and taking place in several countries, Of Women and Salt examines the relationships between mothers and daughters. 7 of 10 The Five Wounds, Kirstin Valdez Quade (April 6) As 33-year-old Amadeo Padilla prepares for the Good Friday procession, where he’s set to play Jesus, his 15-year-old daughter, Angel, shows up on his doorstep and informs him that she’s pregnant. Taking place during the first year of her baby’s life, it brings together five generations of the Padillas and confronts their difficult family dynamics. 8 of 10 Indivisible, Daniel Aleman (May 4) Just as he begins to think his parents are safe from deportation, Mateo’s world is upended. One day he returns home from school and learns that ICE has detained his parents. As he struggles to balance supporting younger sister Sophie, school, and his dreams of becoming a Broadway star, Mateo feels isolated and unsure of his place within his dual identities. 9 of 10 Perfectly Parvin, Olivia Abtahi (May 18) In an attempt to get the cutest boy at school to ask her to homecoming, 14-year-old Iranian-American Parvin Mohammadi decides to change herself. Drawing inspiration from rom-com women, who seemingly always get the guy, she decides to tone down her laugh and chatterbox tendencies. But as she deals with the aftermath of the Muslim Ban and a surprising friendship with a boy she meets at the Farsi lessons her parents have forced her to take over the weekend, Parvin starts to see things differently. 10 of 10
Photo: courtesy of Brandon King.
Wild Tongues Can’t Be Tamed: 15 Voices from the Latinx Diaspora, Saraciea J. Fennell (September 14) Saraciea J. Fennel, the founder of The Bronx Book Festival and a book publicist who has worked with several best-selling authors, is the author behind this poignant anthology. With essays and poems from Elizabeth Acevedo, Naima Coster, Ingrid Rojas Contreras, and more, this book challenges stereotypes and myths about Latinx communities. *cover not yet available