Best of 2023: 17 of the Best Books by Latinx Authors Published This Year

From "Plantains and Our Becoming" to "Candelaria" here are 17 of the best Latinx books of 2023

Best Latinx books 2023

Photos: HarperOne; Grand Central Publishing; Penguin Random House

This year was an incredible year for Latinx representation in publishing. Without a doubt, there’s still a lot of work to be done to increase visibility and success for the writers and storytellers in our community. Even now, there’s a major lack of diversity on all sides of the publishing industry but writers like Elizabeth Acevedo, Isabel Allende, and Melissa Lozada-Oliva are part of the move toward more diversity. They were among the Latina writers that released some of our favorite books in various genres this year, many centered on Latinx stories and culture. Read on to learn more about 17 of the best books by Latinx authors that were published in 2023 that you should read.

Saints of the Household by Ari Tison

Latinx books 2023
Photo: Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR)

Saints of the Household is Indigenous Costa Rican-American writer Ari Tison’s debut young adult (YA) novel which follows Max and Jay, two Bribri American brothers forced to rely on each other for survival and protection from their physically abusive father. One day in the woods, they stumble upon their friend Nicole in a heated argument with her boyfriend Luca, the school’s star soccer player. When they come to her aid, they end up beating him to the point of being unrecognizable, sending shock waves through their small Minnesota town Deer Creek. As they grapple with how this act of violence has changed their views of who they are and their dreams for the future, they realize that it is only by returning to their Bribri roots that they can find a path forward and alter the course of their lives. Told in alternating perspectives, the novel offers poignant insights about abuse, trauma, brotherhood, and reconnecting to your roots, all told through a unique blend of short vignettes and poems.

Promises of Gold by José Olivarez

Latinx books 2023
Photo: Henry Holt and Co.

Promises of Gold is José Olivarez’s latest collection of poetry, this time centering on different types of love―self, brotherly, romantic, familial, cultural―and how forces like gender, capitalism, religion, and the American Dream complicate, misrepresent, and limit such expressions. He also touches on ever-relevant topics of migration, colonization, legacy, community, and identity with tenderness and vulnerability. The collection features the original English and the Spanish translation.

Family Lore by Elizabeth Acevedo

Latinx books 2023
Photo: Ecco

Known for her YA books including the novel-in-verse The Poet X and Clap When You Land, Elizabeth Acevedo released her highly-anticipated debut adult fiction novel Family Lore. The story follows Flor Marte, the daughter of a Dominican American family who has the gift of predicting the day when someone will die. When she invites the family for a living wake to celebrate her life, no one, not even her sisters, knows what it means. Over the course of the three days before the wake, secrets are revealed, pasts remembered, and histories relived of all the lives of the Marte women spanning decades, generations, cities, and borders to create a powerful portrait of a family across two countries.

Daughters of Latin America

Books Latina self-care
Photo: Amistad

Daughters of Latin America is an anthology of poems and prose from 140 Latine, Black, and Indigenous writers, poets, leaders, shamas, scholars, and activists. Spanning time, genres, and place, the book is divided into 13 parts and themes to represent the 13 Mayan Moons featuring content on love, mental health, and self-care. Contributors include historical icons and award-winners like Audre Lorde and Edwide Danticat, as well as beloved contemporary writers today like Elizabeth Acevedo, Ada Limón, Julia Alvarez, Angie Cruz, Naima Coster, U.S. Representative Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez. This isn’t just a collection of writings, it’s an ode to the elders who came before and the new voices on the rise and it’s edited by former Latina editor Sandra Guzmán.

Plantains and Our Becoming by Melania Luisa Marte

 From "Family Lore" by Elizabeth Acevedo to "Plantains and Our Becoming" by Melania Luisa Marte,
Photo: Tiny Reparations Books

Plantains and Our Becoming by Melania Luisa Marte is the poet’s debut poetry collection, where she spotlights her roots and history, carves out space for herself as a Black Latina, and looks toward a more hopeful future for her family and communities. In doing so, she’s not afraid to call out colonialism, nationalism, displacement, and generational trauma, but she also makes it a point to celebrate the good: joy, self-love, ancestral knowledge, and liberation. And all along the way, she uses the metaphor of plantains as a symbol of strength and resistance, and demonstrates how a seemingly simple fruit is actually full of sweetness, wisdom, and history.

Las Madres by Esmeralda Santiago

New Latinx books for Latinx Heritage Month
Photo: Knopf

Esmeralda Santiago rose to fame with her 1993 memoir When I Was Puerto Rican and now she’s once again telling the story of Puerto Rican women in her novel Las Madres. The story follows a group of women (las madres and las hijas) over the span of decades in both New York and Puerto Rico. We initially meet 15-year-old Luz,  the only Afro-Latina girl in her dance academy in Puerto Rico in 1975, who suffers a tragic loss after an accident that leaves her with a life-long brain injury. As she must navigate her new life with cognitive impairment and memory loss, she meets Ada and Shirley who become her life-long friends. Fast forward to 2017 in the Bronx and Luz’s adult daughter Marysol along with Ada and Shirley’s daughter Graciela come together to plan a trip to Puerto Rico to help them all connect/reconnect with their beloved isla. As they find themselves in the midst of Hurricane Maria, their own storm brews when family secrets are revealed.

The Making of Yolanda la Bruja by Lorraine Avila

Best Latinx books 2023
Photo: Levine Querido

The Making of Yolanda La Bruja by Lorraine Avila follows Yolanda Alvarez, a bruja-in-training who, under the guidance of her grandmother Mamá Teté and spiritual guides the Brujas Diosas, does readings, interprets energy, and trusts in her family’s tradition to lead her to successful initiation. But when Ben, a white boy and the son of a politician, starts attending her Bronx high school and harassing BIPOC students, she begins experiencing visions of violence, guns, and fear. Suddenly everything she cares about—her best friend Victory, her crush José, her classmates, her family—is threatened, and only with the help of her community and ancestors can she save them all, and herself.

What Happened to Ruthy Ramirez by Claire Jimenez

Best Latinx books 2023
Photo: Grand Central Publishing

What Happened to Ruthy Ramirez by Claire Jiménez follows the Ramirez women of Staten Island: Ruthy, a 13 year old who suddenly disappears after track practice; Jessica, who, 12 years later, spots a woman whom she believes to be Ruthy in a raunchy reality show with dyed red hair and familiar beauty mark; Nina, her younger sister who graduates from college only to work at a lingerie store; and Dolores, their mother who still struggles with the loss. When Jessica spots “Ruthy” on TV, the three women she left behind, as well as Dolores’s friend Irene, hatch a plan to embark on a family road trip and reunite with her sister where the show is being filmed. Along the way, they’ll finally have to save the past and look forward toward the future, even if it means no longer having Ruthy in it.

Vampires of El Norte by Isabel Cañas

Latinx books 2023
Photo: Berkley

If you liked Isabel Cañas’s The Hacienda, you’ll love her newest supernatural Western novel, Vampires of El Norte. The story follows Nena, a curandera and the daughter of a rancher in 1840s Mexico whose home becomes a battlefield between vampires and vaqueros. When the U.S. attacks Mexico, the man-made war abruptly brings together Nena and Néstor, her childhood sweetheart she thought died in a vampire attack nine years prior. But they will have to put aside the anger, confusion, and grief stewing between them if they hope to protect their country from two kinds of monsters.

Silver Nitrate by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

Latinx books 2023
Photo: Del Rey

Silvia Moreno-Garcia, author ofThe Daughter of Doctor Moreau and Mexican Gothic, returns with yet another thriller, Silver Nitrate. Taking place in the ’90s, the novel follows Montserrat, a sound editor employed by Mexico City’s film industry, who’s overlooked even by her best friend Tristán, a struggling soap opera star she’s been in love with for years. When he finds out film director Abel Urueta is his new neighbor, the pair are drawn into a mysterious world of ghosts, sorcerers, cult horror, Nazi occultism, and a cursed film that may just cost them more than they bargained for. 

Carmen and Grace by Melissa Coss Aquino

Best Latinx books 2023
Photo: William Morrow Books

Carmen and Grace by Melissa Coss Aquino follows the lives of the book’s titular characters who are more like sisters than cousins, bonded by a childhood of neglect, addiction, and instability. Later, they’re tied together by the kindness of their benefactor Doña Durka, who also happens to be the leader of an underground drug empire. When the Doña suddenly dies, Grace is primed to take over the business, while Carmen is ready to leave and start a new life before her secret pregnancy reveals itself. But it might be harder than she thought to abandon the only life she’s ever known, her tight sisterhood with the other women mentored by Doña Durka, and Grace, whose plans are both reckless and threatening and may endanger them all.

The Wind Knows My Name by Isabel Allende

Latinx books 2023
Photo: Ballantine Books

The Wind Knows My Name is the latest novel from Isabel Allende, the iconic Chilean writer known for her groundbreaking novel, The House of the SpiritsIn this new book, Samuel Adler is a six-year-old boy in 1938 who escapes Nazi-occupied Austria to the United States alone and with nothing but clothes and a violin. In 2019 Arizona, Anita Diaz is a blind seven-year-old girl who, along with her mother, escapes El Salvador to seek refuge in the U.S., only to become separated at a camp in Nogales. Throughout the novel, we see these two lives come together in unexpected ways, exploring themes of war, immigration, time, dreams, and the resilience of the human spirit.

The Luis Ortega Survival Club by Sonora Reyes

Queer Latinx books 2023
Photo: Balzer + Bray

If you loved Sonora Reyes’s debut novel The Lesbiana’s Guide to Catholic School, you’ll love their newest book, The Luis Ortega Survival Club. The novel follows Ariana Ruiz, a selectively mute autistic bisexual girl who is used to feeling invisible in her high school, even with her bold style. So when she’s noticed by popular senior Luis Ortega, she finds herself drawn to him and all of his charm and charisma. But things take a turn when they have sex at a party that she didn’t consent to but she also didn’t say no. Rumors about her promiscuity start to spread and when things are at their worst, she receives a mysterious note in her locker, leading her to a group of her classmates who have also been victimized by Luis. Together, they’re determined to take him down but even between her growing crush on a girl named Shawni and her own problems at home, it will be up to Ari to ultimately reveal the truth.

The Haunting of Alejandra by V.Castro

Best Latinx books 2023
Photo: Del Rey

The Haunting of Alejandra by V. Castro is an adult literary horror novel following the titular character as she struggles with an inner darkness she doesn’t understand, that could destroy her from the inside out even with the support of her husband, children, and adoptive mother around her. When Alejandra starts being haunted by a vision of La Llorona, she visits a therapist to unravel her family history, not only to discover the biological mother she never knew but also her grandmother and all the foremothers who have come before. In doing so, she realizes that they share more than tragedy and horrifying secrets, they share the visions of the women in a veil crying for help. And if she is to emerge unscathed, she will have to rely on the strength of her ancestors to help her vanquish La Llorona forever.

Candelaria by Melissa Lozada-Oliva

Best Latinx books 2023
Photo: Astra House

Candelaria by Melissa Lozada-Oliva follows three generations of Guatemalan women: the all-seeing grandmother Candelaria, her daughter Lucia, and her three daughters Bianca, Paola, and Candy who are all spread across the U.S. Spanning time and place, the book switches between the past seeing the women battling the everyday struggles of life, and a near-future when an earthquake unleashes a zombie apocalypse that only Candelaria can save her family from. The book offers a new take on family, womanhood, love, and the apocalypse genre as a whole.

Get Rooted: Reclaim Your Soul, Serenity, and Sisterhood Through the Healing Medicine of the Grandmothers by Robyn Moreno

Best Latinx books 2023
Photo: Hachette Go

Get Rooted by Robyn Moreno is a memoir that explores the author’s intense creative and personal burnout that led to a midlife meltdown, one that many working moms and survivors of family trauma know too well about. To save herself, she left behind her #mommyboss life, setting out on a 260-day spiritual journey based on the Mexica calendar to study curanderismo. As well as learning about souls and essences, she reconnected with family, learned about curandera abuela, took cooking lessons, found community in hiking, had conversations with her immediate family, and found healing in the jungles of Belize. By returning to the roots and hidden stories of her family, ancestors, and culture, she came to a new understanding of herself, her role in the world, the traditions she holds dear, and the kind of person she was meant to be.

Legitimate Kid: A Memoir by Aida Rodriguez 

Best Latinx books 2023
Photo: HarperOne

Legitimate Kid by stand-up comedian of Puerto Rican and Dominican descent Aida Rodriguez is a memoir that spans her upbringing with a single mom growing up in Miami to her own struggles as a single mom in LA. The title stems from her feelings of being an “illegitimate kid” having not grown up with her dad around. From getting kidnapped not once but twice by family members to growing up the oldest of four kids from different fathers to her own struggles with marriage and parenting, the book is an exploration of finding your place and never losing sight of your roots. She shows how she’s turned her tragedy and pain into comedy that explores misogyny, being a first gen Latina, and colorism/anti-Blackness in the Latinx community. This is an empowering story of overcoming difficulties in life and making success out of one’s gifts.

In this Article

2023 Afro-Latina authors best of 2023 books by writers of color Elizabeth Acevedo Esmeralda Santiago Featured latina authors Latinx authors Melania Luisa Marte Melissa Lozada Oliva
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