As we look back at the publishing world throughout 2022, we know there’s still a lot of work to be done for Latinx books. In an industry dominated by white writers, Latinx stories are still struggling to be published and promoted in the mainstream, especially ones that offer positive and nuanced representation of our community. But despite the obstacles, Latinx authors were still making their voices heard this year and opening doors for future generations of Latinx writers to follow. Now, we’re celebrating the books that really wowed us, gave us new perspectives, and told stories that we hadn’t heard before. Read on to learn more about 15 of the best books by Latinx authors that were published in 2022 and made positive strides for our community.
Solito by Javier Zamora
Celebrated by authors like Sandra Cisneros, Solito by Salvadoran poet Javier Zamora is a stunning memoir chronicling his 3,000-mile journey from El Salvador to the United States. He left his aunt and grandparents in his homeland to reunite with a mother who left him and a father he can’t remember. At just nine years old, he embarks on the treacherous two-month journey alone through boat trips, desert treks, and arrests, sometimes even while held at gunpoint. This is a story of the danger and fear of immigration, but also of joy, kindness, and love in the most unexpected and often darkest of moments.
Somewhere We Are Human edited by Reyna Grande & Sonia Guiñansaca
Somewhere We Are Human is a groundbreaking collection edited by Reyna Grande and Sonia Guiñansaca that features essays, poems, and artwork by writers, artists, and activists that shed light on the undocumented experience as currently or formerly undocumented migrants, refugees, and Dreamers. Out of the white noise of politics, debates, stereotypes, and xenophobia, emerges this anthology as a way to bring faces, names, empathy, and nuance back into the conversation. Readers will learn about the very people this country attempts to discredit and demonize through portraits of their fear, pain, hopes, perseverance, and most importantly, humanity. Touching on themes of homeland, race, class, genre, sexuality, nationality, and parenthood, the book offers a different future for immigrants, for the country, and for all of us.
Woman Without Shame by Sandra Cisneros
Beloved Chicana author and poet Sandra Cisneros made our year when she released Woman Without Shame, her first poetry collection in 28 years. She writes on themes of womanhood, aging, rebirth, resistance, ancestors, home, time, desire, and love with her trademark wit, humor, and fearlessness. From contemplations of her naked body to memories of former lovers, she uses song, elegy, and poetry to draw readers completely into her world and homeland, and redefines what being a modern woman can look like.
Crying in the Bathroom by Erika L. Sanchez
Best known for her best-selling debut novel I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter (soon to be a feature film directed by America Ferrera!), Erika L. Sanchez enchanted readers with her new memoir Crying in the Bathroom. Told in a series of essays, Sanchez details her life growing up as the foul-mouthed daughter of Mexican immigrants in Chicago, not to mention a pariah, misfit, disappointment, and rabble-rouser. Throughout the book, she also covers her greatest passions and frustrations including sex, white feminism, and depression—all with unflinching insightfulness, boldness, wit, and brutal honesty.
River Woman, River Demon by Jennifer Givhan
River Woman, River Demon by Mexican-American and Indigenous author Jennifer Givhan is a psychological thriller like no other. The story follows Eva Santos Moon, a Chicana artist and practicing bruja and curandera who keeps experiencing blackouts, creative blocks, and spiritual disconnect. When her husband is accused of murdering their friend, Eva quickly becomes a suspect in the case, dredging up memories of a childhood friend who died under eerily similar circumstances. Suddenly, as past and present collide in unsettling ways, she no longer knows who to trust, least of all herself. Exploring folk magick, empowerment, revenge, and grief, this is a spell-binding tale of darkness, healing, and renewal.
You Sound Like a White Girl by Julissa Arce
Author Julissa Arce broke new ground and illuminated new aspects of the Latinx experience with her nonfiction book, You Sound Like a White Girl. Throughout these pages, she gave crucial insight into the racist and xenophobic idea of assimilation and belonging in the United States by forcing Black and brown Americans and immigrants to hide their language and accents in exchange for status and success. By blending centuries of history with her own immigration story, she teaches readers how to reject the white American gaze and fully embrace their unique origins, heritage, culture, history, and differences—only then, she argues, can we truly belong.
The Pain We Carry: Healing from Complex PTSD for People of Color by Natalie Gutierrez
The Pain We Carry by Natalie Y. Gutiérrez is essential reading for BIPOC who have experienced trauma repeatedly throughout their lives like discrimination, assault, harassment, poverty, and violence. Throughout the book, readers will learn about a phenomenon known as complex post-traumatic stress disorder (C-PTSD), a disorder that commonly impacts people of color. She explores the effects of trauma including repeated exposure to racism, intergenerational trauma, and abuse and how these can have long-term effects on an individual’s mental health. Gutiérrez, a trauma therapist, outlines tangible tools and provides resources for building avenues to healing, safety, self-compassion, resilience, reconnection, reflection, validation, and intention. Readers won’t walk away the same.
Neruda on the Park by Cleyvis Natera
Neruda on the Park by Dominican American writer Cleyvis Natera follows the Guerrero family who has lived in the (fictional) Dominican neighborhood Nothar Park for 20 years in New York City. When a neighboring building is set to be demolished to make way for luxury condos, it upends the lives of a family and an entire community feeling the effects of gentrification. There’s Eusebia, an elder who attempts to stop construction with devious and dangerous schemes, and her daughter Luz who begins a forbidden and secret romance with a developer at the construction company to her mother’s horror. Not to mention Eusebia’s husband who is secretly designing their new home in the Dominican Republic despite knowing her reluctance to go back. This is a powerful exploration of intergenerational trauma, the effects of gentrification, and the complicated immigrant experience.
Inheritance by Elizabeth Acevedo
Dominican American novelist and poet Elizabeth Acevedo returned to bless us with a brilliant new book this year, Inheritance: A Visual Poem! Best known for her award-winning YA novels The Poet X, With the Fire on High, and Clap When You Land, she transformed her most famous spoken-word poem “Hair” into a fully illustrated keepsake book. With artwork by Andrea Pippins, the poem celebrates Black hair and its place in Afro-Latinidad in all its painful history, pride, and joy.
Olga Dies Dreaming by Xochitl Gonzalez
Already the basis of an upcoming Hulu pilot starring Aubrey Plaza, Olga Dies Dreaming by Xochitl Gonzalez tells the tale of Olga, a Puerto Rican wedding planner and her brother Prieto, a Congressman representing Brooklyn, their home district. Though they’re successful now, their youth was marred by their mother’s absence after she fled to Puerto Rico when they were young to fight for the island’s liberation from the U.S. Olga and Prieto each have a complicated relationship with Puerto Rico that’s pushed to the forefront in the wake of Hurricane Maria in 2017. They’re forced to reunite with their mother and question where their identities as Puerto Ricans and Americans on the mainland really end and begin.
High-Risk Homosexual by Edgar Gomez
High-Risk Homosexual is the debut work of Edgar Gomez who uses wit and humor to discuss his journey as a gay Latino. From being surrounded by a culture of machismo in his uncle’s Nicaraguan cockfighting ring, to being held to toxic standards by his family, he nevertheless found joy and acceptance of his sexuality in queer spaces. Throughout this humorous, witty book, he redefines the meaning of pride and explores themes of erasure, queerness, self-acceptance, and celebration in familial, professional, and personal life.
The Other: How to Own Your Power at Work as a Woman of Color by Daniela Pierre-Bravo
The Other by Chilean author and MSNBC reporter Daniela Pierre-Bravo was another empowering book we loved, this time about how to embrace your uniqueness, individuality, and differences at work as a woman of color. Assimilation calls for marginalized peoples to strive for the American definition of success, leaving them behind to become overwhelmed, overworked, and invisible—yet it will never be enough to be fully accepted by a majority white culture. Especially if someone is an undocumented immigrant, it can lead to being underestimated, othered, and even taken advantage of in the workplace. Instead, Pierre-Bravo offers steps and tools for empowerment, healing, and career advancement that doesn’t feel draining or unrewarding or erasing of our identity. All to make our differences our ultimate power.
How Not to Drown in a Glass of Water by Angie Cruz
We were thrilled to see the return of Dominican American author Angie Cruz this year with the release of her newest novel, How Not to Drown in a Glass of Water. We follow Cara Romero, who, in her mid-50s, loses her job at a lamp factory as a result of the recession and is dealing with gentrification in her neighborhood. She starts seeing a job counselor and decides to share the story of her life while equating to her job skills even though it’s not the traditional experience you put on a resume. From affairs to relationships, debt to gentrification, loss to family secrets, the reader begins to see Cara face her past head-on, changing and transforming the course of the rest of her life.
Coming Up Cuban by Sonia Manzano
We loved reading Coming Up Cuban by Sonia Manzano, an author and Emmy-award-winning actor known for her work on Sesame Street. In this enchanting, powerful book, readers are introduced to the stories of Ana, Miguel, Zulema, and Juan—four children who have been affected in different ways by Fidel Castro’s rise to power during the Cuban Revolution. We travel the world from Havana to Miami to New York to see the aftermath of one of the most historic moments in Latin America, and how, despite politics and ulterior motives, we may still see the humanity in one another.
Woman of Light by Kali Fajardo-Anstine
Known for her groundbreaking short story collection Sabrina & Corina, Kali Fajardo-Anstine broke new ground for Latinx and Indigenous representation with the publication of her debut novel, Woman of Light. Set in 1930s Denver, the multigenerational family saga follows Luz “Light Light” Lopez, a tea leaf reader and laundress who is left alone after her older brother is forced out of town by a white mob. As she adjusts to her solitude, she starts to have visions of the past to her Indigenous homeland and family, remembering her ancestors’ joy and struggle at the hands of colonization. Soon, it’ll be up to her to remember her family stories and save them from being erased from the pages of history.