Every year from September 15 to October 15, Americans celebrate National Hispanic Heritage Month by appreciating the community’s history and heritage. It is a way to promote the history, culture, and contributions of Hispanic-Americans — specifically, those whose ancestors came from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean, and Central and South America. So, while it officially doesn’t start for two more weeks, who says we can’t begin the festivities now?
History of Hispanic Heritage Month:
Hispanic Heritage Month originally started with one week of commemoration when it was first introduced by Congressman George E. Brown in June 1968. With the civil rights movement, the need to recognize the contributions of the Latin community gained traction in the 1960s. Awareness of the multicultural groups living in the United States was also gradually growing.
Two heavily Latine and Hispanic populated areas, the San Gabriel Valley and East Los Angeles, were represented by Brown. His aim was to recognize the integral roles of these communities in American history. Observation of Hispanic Heritage Week started in 1968 under President Lyndon B. Johnson and was later extended to a 30-day celebration by President Ronald Reagan, starting on September 15 and ending on October 15. It was enacted into law via approval of Public Law 100-402 on August 17, 1988.
September 15 is set as the starting date for the month as it is important for many reasons. It is the independence anniversary for Latin American countries El Salvador, Guatemala, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, and Honduras. From here onwards, the independence days of Mexico and Chile fall on September 16 and September 18, respectively. Dia de la Raza or Columbus Day also falls within this month, on October 12.
The benefits are obvious and everywhere around us, especially in the Southern half of the United States. With around one-fifth of the U.S. population being Hispanic, their influences are sewn into the very fabric of society whether it be through music, food, literature, or art. So, every September, we honor the culture and contributions of both Latine and Hispanic Americans, whose rich history and accomplishments have shaped the very country we live in.
Having said that, here is a list of some, but not all, Latine authors you should be reading/supporting, and not just in September, but all year long. Some you’ve most certainly heard of, some maybe not, but they are all worthy of your time and will add quality miles to your TBR!
A dual citizen of the United States and Brazil, she lived in São Paulo as a child and most of her family still lives there today. Gabriella holds an MFA in creative writing from The Writer’s Foundry at St. Joseph’s College. She has been awarded fellowships to Yaddo and MacDowell, where she was named a Harris Center fellow. She has worked as a reporter, a creative writing teacher, and in immigration law. It Is Wood, It Is Stone is her first novel.
Zoraida Córdova is the acclaimed author of more than a dozen novels and short stories, including the Brooklyn Brujas series, Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge: A Crash of Fate, and The Inheritance of Orquídea Divina. In addition to writing novels, she serves on the Board of We Need Diverse Books, and is the co-editor of the bestselling anthology Vampires Never Get Old, as well as the cohost of the writing podcast, Deadline City. She writes romance novels as Zoey Castile. Zoraida was born in Guayaquil, Ecuador, and calls New York City home. When she’s not working, she’s roaming the world in search of magical stories.
Romina Garber is a New York Times and international bestselling author whose books include Lobizona & the ZODIAC series. Born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, and raised in Miami, Florida, Romina landed her first writing gig as a teen—College She Wrote, a weekly Sunday column for the Miami Herald that was later picked up for national syndication—and she hasn’t stopped writing since. She is a graduate of Harvard College and a Virgo to the core
Raquel Vasquez Gilliland (Sia Martinez and the Moonlit Beginning of Everything, How Moon Fuentez Fell in Love with the Universe)
Raquel Vasquez Gilliland is a Mexican American poet, novelist and painter. She received her MFA in poetry from the University of Alaska, Anchorage in 2017. She’s most inspired by fog and seeds and the lineages of all things. When not writing, Raquel tells stories to her plants and they tell her stories back. She lives in Tennessee with her beloved family and mountains.
Emery Lee is an author and artist whose love for chaotic and morally gray characters started at a young age. After graduating with a degree in creative writing, e’s gone on to author novels, short stories, and webcomics across a variety of genres and demographics, though YA fiction has always held a special place in eir heart. Drawing inspiration from Eastern media, pop punk music, and personal life experience, eir work seeks to explore the intersections of life and identity in fun, heartfelt, and inventive ways.
Carmen Maria Machado is the author of the bestselling memoir In the Dream House and the award-winning short story collection Her Body and Other Parties. She has been a finalist for the National Book Award and the winner of the Bard Fiction Prize, the Lambda Literary Award for Lesbian Fiction, the Lambda Literary Award for LGBTQ Nonfiction, the Brooklyn Public Library Literature Prize, the Shirley Jackson Award, and the National Book Critics Circle’s John Leonard Prize. In 2018, the New York Times listed Her Body and Other Parties as a member of “The New Vanguard,” one of “15 remarkable books by women that are shaping the way we read and write fiction in the 21st century.”
Crystal Maldonado is a young adult author with a lot of feelings. Her work has been published in the Hartford Courant, Buzzfeed, and Latina Magazine. By day, she is a social media manager working in higher ed, and by night, a writer who loves Beyoncé, shopping, spending too much time on her phone, and being extra. She lives in western Massachusetts with her husband, daughter, and dog.
Janel Martinez is an entrepreneur and multimedia journalist. She’s a staunch advocate for Afro-Latinidad, founding award-winning blog, Ain’t I Latina?, an online destination celebrating Afro-Latinas (women of African descent with roots in Latin America and the Caribbean). Martinez’s platform has featured interviews with prominent Afro-Latinas, including actress Selenis Leyva and singer Amara La Negra, among other women.
Anna-Marie McLemore (they/them) writes magical realism and fairy tales that are as queer, Latine, and nonbinary as they are. Their books include THE WEIGHT OF FEATHERS, a 2016 William C. Morris YA Debut Award Finalist; 2017 Stonewall Honor Book WHEN THE MOON WAS OURS, which was longlisted for the National Book Award in Young People’s Literature and was the winner of the James Tiptree Jr. Award; WILD BEAUTY, a Kirkus, School Library Journal, and Booklist best book of 2017; BLANCA & ROJA, a New York Times Book Review Editors’ Choice; MISS METEOR (co-authored with Tehlor Kay Mejia); DARK AND DEEPEST RED, a Winter 2020 Indie Next List selection; and THE MIRROR SEASON.
Matt Mendez has worked on airplanes all of his adult life and is the author of the short story collection Twitching Heart and the YA novel Barely Missing Everything. His stories have appeared in Huizache, The Acentos Review, BorderSenses, Pank, The Literary Review, and other places. Barely Missing Everything was named a 2019 Best YA Book by Kirkus, Seventeen Magazine, NBC Latino, and Texas Monthly. Matt is from El Paso, Texas but now lives in Tucson, Arizona.
Mexican by birth, Canadian by inclination. Silvia Moreno-Garcia is the author of a number of critically acclaimed novels, including Gods of Jade and Shadow, Mexican Gothic, and others. She has edited several anthologies, including She Walks in Shadows. Silvia is the publisher of Innsmouth Free Press. She co-edited the horror magazine The Dark with Sean Wallace from 2017 to 2020. She’s a columnist for The Washington Post. She has an MA in Science and Technology Studies from the University of British Columbia. Her thesis can be read online and is titled “Magna Mater: Women and Eugenic Thought in the Work of H.P. Lovecraft.” She lives in Vancouver, British Columbia.
Daniel José Older is the New York Times best-selling author of the upcoming Young Adult fantasy novel Ballad & Dagger (book 1 of the Outlaw Saints series), the sci-fi adventure Flood City, the monthly comic series The High Republic Adventures. His other books include the historical fantasy series Dactyl Hill Squad, The Book of Lost Saints, the Bone Street Rumba urban fantasy series, Star Wars: Last Shot, and the Young Adult series the Shadowshaper Cypher, including Shadowshaper, which was named one of the best fantasy books of all time by TIME magazine and one of Esquire’s 80 Books Every Person Should Read. He won the International Latino Book Award and has been nominated for the Kirkus Prize, The World Fantasy Award, the Andre Norton Award, the Locus, and the Mythopoeic Award.
CLARIBEL A. ORTEGA is a former reporter who writes middle-grade and young adult fantasy inspired by her Dominican heritage. When she’s not busy turning her obsession with eighties pop culture, magic, and video games into books, she’s co-hosting her podcast Celebrity Book Club and helping authors navigate publishing with her consulting business GIFGRRL. Claribel has been featured on Buzzfeed, Bustle, Good Morning America and Deadline. Claribel’s debut middle grade novel GHOST SQUAD is out now from Scholastic and is being made into a feature film.
Mark Oshiro is the award-winning author of the young adult books ANGER IS A GIFT (2019 Schneider Family Book Award) and EACH OF US A DESERT, both with Tor Teen, as well as their middle grade debut, THE INSIDERS, out in 2021 with Harper Collins. When not writing, they are trying to pet every dog in the world. Mark is based in Atlanta, GA.
Born and raised in Arizona, Sonora Reyes is the author of the forthcoming contemporary young adult novel, THE LESBIANA’S GUIDE TO CATHOLIC SCHOOL. They write fiction full of queer and Latinx characters in a variety of genres, with current projects in both kidlit and adult categories. Sonora is also the creator and host of the Twitter chat #QPOCChat, a monthly community-building chat for queer writers of color. Sonora currently lives in Arizona in a multi-generational family home with a small pack of dogs who run the place. Outside of writing, Sonora loves dancing, singing karaoke, and playing with their baby nephew.
Lilliam Rivera is an award-winning author of the young adult novels Never Look Back, a Pura Belpré Honor winner, Dealing In Dreams, The Education of Margot Sanchez, as well as the Goldie Vance series for middle grade readers, and the stand-alone middle grade novel Barely Floating. Her forthcoming works include a young adult science fiction novel, We Light Up the Sky, for Bloomsbury (Oct 5, 2021) and a graphic novel for DC Comics, Unearthed: A Jessica Cruz Story (September 14, 2021). Her work has appeared in The Washington Post, the New York Times, and Elle, to name a few. Lilliam lives in Los Angeles.
Born in Lima, Peru, Natalia Sylvester received a BA in Creative Writing from the University of Miami and now works as a freelance writer in Texas. Her work has appeared in the New York Times, Bustle, Catapult, Electric Literature, Latina magazine, McSweeney’s Publishing, and the Austin American-Statesman. Natalia’s first novel, CHASING THE SUN, was named the Best Debut Book of 2014 by Latinidad. Her latest novel, EVERYONE KNOWS YOU GO HOME, won an International Latino Book Award, the 2018 Jesse H. Jones Award for Best Work of Fiction from the Texas Institute of Letters, and was named a Best Book of 2018 by Real Simple magazine.
Aiden Thomas is a trans, Latinx, New York Times Bestselling Author with an MFA in Creative Writing from Mills College. Originally from Oakland, California, they now make their home in Portland, OR. Aiden is notorious for not being able to guess the endings of books and movies, and organizes their bookshelves by color.
Angela Velez grew up in Baltimore, under the watchful eye of her Peruvian immigrant parents. She has a BA from Columbia University and an MFA from the University of Pittsburgh. Angela lives in Pittsburgh, with her piles of books, three plastic flamingos, and one wobbly disco ball. Lulu and Milagro’s Search for Clarity is her first novel.