10 Mexican female writers worth reading

12/12/2019
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19:28
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EL UNIVERSAL in English/Miranda Perea
10 Mexican female writers worth reading
There are many outstanding Mexican female writers - Photo: File photo/EL UNIVERSAL

10 Mexican female writers worth reading

12/12/2019
19:28
EL UNIVERSAL in English/Miranda Perea
Mexico City
-A +A
Women, both in Mexico and the world, are still struggling for their literary productions to be recognized

Mexico has one of the richest and most influential literary traditions in the world; however, most times the spotlight has been reserved for male writers. Just as talented although not as recognized, Mexican female authors have contributed to the literary legacy of our country

Women, both in Mexico and the world, are still struggling for their literary productions to be recognized in an industry heavily dominated by men.

Today we bring you a list of 10 Mexican female writers worth reading if you want to be more inclusive or if you are looking to expand your literary horizon.

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1. Elena Garro

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Elena Garro was a playwright, a novelist, a poet, and a storyteller, as well as a journalist. She also dabbled in artistic disciplines like dancing and acting. Her literary production is essential for Mexican and Hispano-American literature. Her works presented new ways of conceiving time in narrations and her plays were just as innovative. Her stories were both fantastic and plausible and presented the worldview of Mexican towns in a time when farmers and indigenous people were relegated.

Garro questioned the results of the Mexican Revolution, brought back the trauma of the Spanish colonization, and pointed out social inequality. Her literary relevance is so great that some authors assert that, after Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz, she is the best female writer in Mexico.

Some of her most famous books are Recollections of Things to Come, a novel with which she won the Xavier Villaurrutia Award, Un hogar sólido (A Solid Home), and La semana de colores (The week of colors). Her short story “La culpa es de los Tlaxcaltecas” (It's the Fault of the Tlaxcaltecas) has become a classic of Mexican literature.

2. Amparo Dávila

 

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Born in Zacatecas in 1928, she wrote narrative and poetry. Her short stories are considered among the most particular in Mexico during the 20th century and have been included in several anthologies of the literary genre.

She belonged to what some call the Mid-century Generation. Dávila is one of the few Mexican storytellers whose literature goes beyond reality without being fantastic.

Although she began her literary career writing poetry, she then focused in narrative. Some of her books are Tiempo destrozado (Broken Time), Música concreta (Concrete Music), and Árboles petrificados (Petrified Trees), with which she won the Xavier Villaurrutia Award in 1977.

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3. Rosario Castellanos

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Rosario Castellanos is one of the most outstanding Mexican female writers. She combined her literary work with cultural promotion, teaching, journalism, and diplomacy. She wrote novels, short stories, poetry, and theater.

She is known for books like Balún Canán, Oficio de tinieblas (The Darkness Trade), Álbum de familia (Family Album), and Poesía no eres tú (Poetry is not you), which are essential readings of Mexican literature because they address two aspects that used to be ignored are barely mentioned: women and being indigenous. Her play El eterno femenino (The Eternal Feminine) is based on feminist ideas.

She also collaborated in a number of newspapers and magazines. Although she did not receive the recognition she deserved when she was alive, after her death, there have been numerous studies about her work.

4. Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz

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Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz was an outstanding poet of the Spanish Golden Age. Her intellectual life was very intense and she wrote numerous lyrical, courtesan, and philosophical poems, as well as comedies, and religious plays. Belonging to the baroque, her poetry is rich in complex figures of speech and references to Greek-Latin mythology.

Her literary works are considered extraordinary classics of Hispanic literature. She followed the literary models of her time. Some of her most famous works are the poem "Primero sueño" (First Dream) and the comedy Los empeños de una casa (The Efforts of a House), and Respuesta de la poetisa a la muy ilustre sor Filotea de la Cruz, (Answer to Sister Filotea de la Cruz) one of the most important texts in NovoHispanic literature.

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5. Guadalupe Amor

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Guadalupe Amor was one of the most controversial figures of Mexican poetry in the second half of the 20th century. Also known as Pita Amor, she was considered eccentric for not following the atavisms of women in Mexico.

In her nearly 30 books, she addressed the metaphysical anguish focused on human weakness and a heterodox perspective of two figures of the Christian trinity: Christ and God. Her language was direct and fixed in rhetorical devices.

Some of her most famous books are Puerta obstinada, Otro libro de amor, Todos los siglos del mundo and Yo soy mi casa. Her presence in media outlets as a promoter of poetry and the great number of paintings celebrating her beauty, as well as her link to Zona Rosa in Mexico City, turned her into a legendary character full of myths and stories.

6. Valeria Luiselli

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Valeria Luiselli studied Philosophy at the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM). She is a collaborator of newspapers and magazines like Letras Libres, El País, and The New York Times, among others.

Luiselli is the first Mexican to be part of the Booker Prize longlist thanks to her book Lost Children Archive, in which she addresses the situation of migrant children in the U.S.

She has also won the International Festival of Literature Metrópolis Bleu Prize in 2016 and was a runner-up in the 2016 National Book Critics Circle Award. She was included in a list created by The Guardian that recognizes the best 100 books of the 21st century. Luiselli is in 83rd place of the list thanks to her book Tell Me How it Ends: An Essay in 40 Questions, which was translated by Lizzie Davis. The book is a brutal and intimate testimony that observes the reality of migrant children from a distance between the intention to solve the distress they face and the impotence caused by the impossibility of helping them.

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7. Fernanda Melchor

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Born in Veracruz in 1982, Fernanda Melchor is known for writing both news stories and novels. Her most famous novel is Hurricane Season, which has been translated into several languages and has been defined as a portrait of Mexico and its demons.

She studied Journalism at the University of Veracruz and is a collaborator in several Mexican publications. Melchor has won the Anna Seghers literary prize as well as the International Literature Award granted by the House of the Cultures of the World, Berlin, among many others.

8. Cristina Rivera Garza

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Cristina Rivera Garza was born in Tamaulipas, Mexico in 1964. She studied Sociology at UNAM and has a Ph.D. in Latin American History by the University of Houston.

Rivera Garza has written about her historical research on the popular definitions of madness and the history of psychiatry in Mexico at the beginning of the 20th century. She has been published in journals like the Hispanic American Historical Review, the Journal of the History of Medicine and Allied Sciences, among many others in England, Argentina, and the U.S. Her literary production has won six of the most important awards in Mexico.

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9. Irma Pineda

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Irma Pineda is a Zapotec poet, translator, teacher, and advocate of human rights born in Oaxaca. She has written several books like Naxiña' Rului' ladxe' (Red Desire) or Guie’ ni (The flower it took), among many others. She has also written for different newspapers, magazines, and anthologies in Mexico, the U.S., and Italy. Her literary works have been translated into English, Italian, German, Serbian, Russian, and Portuguese.

Her works are characterized by the assertion of her identity, her social commitment with her town, and a poetic sensitivity linked to Earth, in addition to her father’s disappearance and her mother’s fight for justice. Her poetry is also marked by the social struggle of indigenous groups. Through her poetry, she gives voice to different fights.

10. Ángeles Mastretta

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Although Ángeles Mastretta began her literary career as a poet, she had always wanted to focus on narrative. In 1985, she published her most famous novel Arráncame la vida (Tear This Heart Out), which had immediate success. In this book, the protagonist wants to become the owner of her destiny by achieving her realization both as a human being and as a woman.

Mastretta’s books Women With Big Eyes and Lovesick have been translated into over seven languages.

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