Lists · Personal Great Books · Spanish Language Lit Month

Libros españoles – un proyecto nuevo

Yesterday marked the first day in three and one-half months (has it been that long, really?!) that I haven’t looked at my reading plans with the weight of The Silmarillion hanging over my head. Yes, that’s right, I’m finished! And lest you think that the length of time it took me to read it reflected the quality of the book, my one-word summary review: “awesome.” But more on that later this week.

Today instead I’m focusing on Stu’s and Richard’s Spanish Language Lit Month. I mentioned previously that I planned on participating, but it also seemed the perfect time to add another one of my project lists. I’ve had an interest in Spanish language books ever since our required summer reading for high school Spanish class (10th grade—Don Quixote, which I didn’t actually finish, whoops!; 11th—our choice of The House of Spirits, One Hundred Years of Solitude, or Fictions; 12th—La casa de Bernarda Alba). Some really good group reads over the past few years and I’m hooked. This is one of my longer lists to date, and I’m sure it will grow. As an explanation for the seemingly random nature of which books I hope to read in Spanish: for the moment, it’s those books for which I already have a Spanish copy.

Spain:

  1. Bécquer, Gustavo Adolfo: Legends and Letters [Leyendas] (1871)
  2. Valera, Juan: Pepita Jimenéz (1874)
  3. Pérez Galdós, Benito: The Disinherited [La desheredada] (1881)
  4. Pérez Galdós, Benito: Fortunata y Jacinta (1887)
  5. Alas y Ureña, Leopoldo “Clarín”: The Regent’s Wife [La regenta] (1884-85)
  6. Pardo Bazán, Emilia: The Manors of Ulloa [Los pazos de Ulloa] (1886)
  7. Baroja, Pío: The Tree of Knowledge [El arbol de la ciencia] (1911)
  8. Unamuno, Miguel de: Mist [Niebla] (1914)
  9. García Lorca, Federico: Obras Escogidas (c. 1918-35)†§
  10. García Lorca, Federico: La casa de Bernarda Alba [The House of Bernarda Alba] (1936)*§
  11. Cela, Camilo José: The Hive [La colmena] (1951)
  12. Goytisolo, Juan: Fiestas (1958)§
  13. Martín-Santos, Luis: Time of Silence [Tiempo de silencio] (1962)
  14. Benet, Juan: Rusty Lances [Herrumbrosas lanzas] (1983)
  15. Marías, Javier: All Souls [Todas las almas] (1987)
  16. Marías, Javier: Your Face Tomorrow [Tu rostro mañana] (2002-07)
  17. Pérez-Reverte, Arturo: El capitán Alatriste [Captain Alatriste] (1996) §
  18. Pérez-Reverte, Arturo: Limpieza de sangre [Purity of Blood] (1997) §
  19. Pérez-Reverte, Arturo: El sol de Breda [The Sun over Breda] (1998) §
  20. Pérez-Reverte, Arturo: El oro del rey [The King’s Gold] (2000) §
  21. Delibes, Miguel: The Heretic [El hereje] (1998)
  22. Vila-Matas, Enrique: Bartleby and Co. [Bartleby y compañía]  (2000)
  23. Cercas, Javier: Soldiers of Salamis [Soldados de Salamina] (2001)
  24. Somoza, José Carlos: Lady Number Thirteen [La dama número trece] (2003)
  25. Ruiz Zafón, Carlos: The Shadow of the Wind [La sombra del viento] (2004)

Argentina:

  1. Echeverría, José Esteban Antonio: “The Captive” [“La cautiva”] (1837)
  2. Echeverría, José Esteban Antonio: “The Slaughterhouse” [“El matadero”] (1839)
  3. Sarmiento, Domingo Faustino: Facundo (1845)
  4. Hernández, José: Martín Fierro (1872-79)
  5. Arlt, Roberto: The Seven Madmen [Los siete locos] (1929)
  6. Borges, Jorge Luis: Ficciones (1962)
  7. Borges, Jorge Luis: The Book of Imaginary Beings [El libro de los seres imaginarios] (1969)
  8. Cortázar, Julio: Hopscotch [Rayuela] (1963)
  9. Puig, Manuel: Kiss of the Spider Woman [El beso de la mujer araña] (1976)
  10. Saer, Juan José: The Witness [El entenado] (1983)
  11. Eloy Martínez, Tomás: The Perón Novel [La novela de Perón] (1985)
  12. Eloy Martínez, Tomás: Santa Evita (1995)
  13. Eloy Martínez, Tomás: The Tango Singer [El cantor de tango] (2004)
  14. Piglia, Ricardo: Money to Burn [Plata quemada] (1997)

Chile:

  1. Donoso, José: The Obscene Bird of Night [El obsceno pájaro de la noche] (1970)
  2. Allende, Isabel: La Casa de los espiritus [The House of the Spirits] (1982)*§
  3. Allende, Isabel: Of Love and Shadows [De amor y de sombra] (1987)
  4. Allende, Isabel: The Stories of Eva Luna [Cuentos de Eva Luna] (1989)
  5. Bolaño, Roberto: Nazi Literature in the Americas [Literatura Nazi en América] (1996)
  6. Bolaño, Roberto: Savage Detectives [Los detcctives salvajes] (1998)
  7. Bolaño, Roberto: 2666 (2004)

Colombia:

  1. García Márquez, Gabriel: No One Writes to the Colonel [El coronel no tiene quien le escriba] (1961)
  2. García Márquez, Gabriel: Cien años de soledad [One Hundred Years of Solitude] (1967)*§
  3. García Márquez, Gabriel: Autumn of the Patriarch [El otoño del patriarca] (1975)
  4. García Márquez, Gabriel: Chronicle of a Death Foretold [Crónica de una muerte anunciada] (1981)
  5. García Márquez, Gabriel: Love in the Time of Cholera [El amor en los tiempos del cólera] (1985)
  6. García Márquez, Gabriel: Clandestine in Chile [La aventura de Miguel Littín clandestino en Chile] (1986)
  7. Mutis, Álvaro: The Adventures and Misadventures of Maqroll [Empresas y tribulaciones de Maqroll el Gaviero]  (1993)
  8. Vallejo, Fernando: Our Lady of the Assassins [La virgen de los sicarios] (1994)

Cuba

  1. Gómez de Avellaneda, Gertrudis: Sab (1841)
  2. Carpentier, Alejo: Kingdom of This World [El reino de este mundo] (1949)
  3. Carpentier, Alejo The Lost Steps [Los pasos perdidos] (1953)
  4. Cabrera Infante, Guillermo: Three Trapped Tigers [Tres tristes tigres] (1964)

Guatemala:

  1. Asturias, Miguel Ángel: Mister President [El Señor Presidente]

México:

  1. Azuela, Mariano: The Underdogs [Los de abajo] (1916)
  2. Paz, Octavio: The Labyrinth of Solitude [El laberinto de la soledad] (1950)
  3. Rulfo, Juan: Pedro Páramo (1955)
  4. Fuentes, Juan: La muerte de Artemio Cruz [The Death of Artemio Cruz] (1962) §
  5. Poniatowska, Elena: Massacre in Mexico [La noche de Tlateloloco] (1971)
  6. Esquivel, Laura: Like Water for Chocolate [Como agua para chocolate] (1989)
  7. Rivera-Garza, Cristina: No One Will See Me Cry [Nadie me verá llorar] (2003)

Peru:

  1. Arguedas, José María: Deep Rivers [Los ríos profundos] (1958)
  2. Vargas Llosa, Mario: Los jefes/Los cachorros [The Chiefs and the Cubs] (1959) §
  3. Vargas Llosa, Mario: The Time of the Hero [La ciudad y los perros] (1962)
  4. Vargas Llosa, Mario: Conversation in the Cathedral [Conversación en la catedral] (1975)
  5. Vargas Llosa, Mario: La fiesta del chivo [The Feast of the Goat] (2000) §

Puerto Rico:

  1. Sánchez, Luis Rafael: Macho Camacho’s Beat [La guaracha del Macho Camacho] (1976)

Uruguay:

  1. Onetti, Juan Carlos: A Brief Life [La vida breve] (1950)

Venezuela:

  1. Gallegos, Rómulo: Doña Bárbara (1929)
  2. Parra, Teresa de la: Mama Blanca’s Memoirs [Memoria de Mamá Blanca] (1929)

Latin America:

  1. Menton, Seymour, ed.: El cuento hispanoamericano, vol. 1 & 2 (1964 ed.) §

I’ve tried to compile my list based on books I own, books I’ve heard good things about, and books that are on “best of” lists. As always, any comments, corrections, suggestions, or emendations are welcome! Needless to say, this is going to be a very long-term project.

* Indicates a reread
§ I hope to read in Spanish
Obras Escogida: An Anthology in the Original Spanish, Dell Publishing Co., Inc. (1965)

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12 thoughts on “Libros españoles – un proyecto nuevo

  1. What a collection you have here! As a Spanish reader, maybe I should follow your example and read some Spanish literature myself. Everyone keeps recommending me “Cien años de soledad” (I see you read it) but I always tend to like English and American literature much more than Spanish one. I see a completely different style: for me, English and American literature are much more economical in their use of words while Spanish literature dwells into descriptions and too many words. However, just recently some Spanish authors have written great crime and detective novels that I do like and I’m planning on reading “Lágrimas en la Lluvia” by Rosa Montero, slightly based on “Do Androids dream of Electric Sheep?”.

    Apparently as in English literature, I’m quite a contemporary reader!

    1. Oh and good luck! It is not usual to find an American reader so into Spanish literature. You should be super-proud to be setting such a good example.

      1. Thanks, Elena! I don’t know that I’m really doing all that much–it will take me years to read all these plus all my other books. I can’t think of too many American bloggers I’ve come across who regularly read Spanish language books, but Richard of Caravana de recuerdos reads a lot (in Spanish). (And is co-hosting Spanish Language Lit Month with Stu of Winstonsdad’s Blog.)

    2. I loved Cien años de soledad (which I read in the English translation for school–I’m hoping the reread will be in Spanish!), but it seems to be one of those love it or hate it sort of books. It’s been a while since I’ve read it, so I can’t remember if there’s an excess of description, but it is one of the most famous examples of “magic realism.”

      I’m relatively new to Spanish-language lit, so I don’t know a lot about the trends and styles within it, but I imagine that they vary by era and country; perhaps you just haven’t found the right authors for you yet. I hope you enjoy the Montero book!

  2. Wonderful list, Amanda, unimproveable at this point. As you read, it will get longer before it gets shorter.

    for me, English and American literature are much more economical in their use of words

    Remove “for me” and this statement is utterly wrong; retain “for me” and it is inarguable. Elena, didn’t you just read Bleak House? Economical?

    1. Thanks, Tom! Just based on the list of books that didn’t make the first cut, I’m anticipating list lengthening. (I tried not to list too many books by the same author if I haven’t read that author yet.) Not to mention all the wonderful books I’m sure to learn about this month! All for the better, I say.

  3. That’s an amazing and inspiring list. In order to contribute to the lengthening (which is going to happen for sure), let me recommend “La vorágine” by José Eustasio Rivera and, for a completely different type of read, “El hombre que amaba a los perros” by Leonardo Padura. I just finished it and am yet to write the review, but I liked it a lot.

    1. Thanks for the recommendations, Bettina. I remember seeing La vorágine when I was working on my list, but didn’t know anything about it. I will look into both of those!

  4. Wonderful list, Amanda. The only tweak I’d suggest at the moment is that if you want to read Rulfo, who is clearly essential reading if you listen to writers who know anything about Lat Am lit, that you also add his slim collection of short stories El llano en llamas [The Burning Plain]: stylistically very different from Pedro Páramo but featuring stories that display mastery of atmosphere and economy and control (I haven’t read all those stories yet, so that volume is also on my list). Happy reading!

    1. Thanks, Richard! Funny, looking through my ‘master’ list, I actually had El llano en llamas marked to include yet it somehow didn’t make it. But if you say that Rulfo is essential, I will definitely add his story collection to my project list.

  5. stunning list Amanda and great have your input for spanish lit month ,so great books there and some on my list to read as well ,all the best stu

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