By Ashly Moore Sheldon • September 22, 2022
National Hispanic Heritage Month is an annual event held from September 15 to October 15. It has been formally recognized by all US presidents ever since being proclaimed by President George H. W. Bush in 1989. It is an opportunity to pay tribute to the generations of Hispanic Americans who have positively influenced and enriched our nation and society. To celebrate, here are ten must-read Hispanic-American authors.
In 2015, Herrera became the first Hispanic-American to hold the position of US Poet Laureate. His experiences as the child of migrant farm workers have strongly shaped his work. The children's book Imagine tells his story as a buoyant, breathtaking poem, illustrated by Caldecott Honoree, Lauren Castillo.
Born and raised in Bogotá, Colombia, author Contreras is a rising star in the literary world. Her first novel, Fruit of the Drunken Tree, was a silver medal winner in First Fiction from the California Book Awards. And her new memoir, The Man Who Could Move Clouds was named Best Book of the Summer by TIME.
An award-winning novelist, journalist, and radio producer, Alarcón was born in Peru and raised in Alabama. His writing incorporates a range of provocative themes such as immigration, gang violence, and the tyranny of war. Ann Patchett called his debut novel, Lost City Radio, "ambitious and resonant."
This past summer, the Mexican-American author was named the 24th Poet Laureate of the US. Limón's visceral, musical poetry has been praised for its honesty, humanity, and humor. Her 2018 collection, The Carrying won a National Book Critics Circle Award.
Considered one of the nation's foremost Chicano authors, Anayo, who passed away in 2020, was best known for his 1972 book Bless Me, Ultima. The coming-of-age novel was subsequently adapted into a film and opera. Anayo went on to publish many other works, including children's books, and more.
Born to Dominican immigrant parents, Acevedo began competing in poetry slams and performing her spoken word poetry as a teen. She has published several much-lauded YA novels-in-verse including The Poet X and With the Fire on High. Her work explores themes of identity, sexuality, and religion.
Born in a small farming village outside of Las Cruces, New Mexico, Sáenz is the first Hispanic winner of the PEN/Faulkner Award and a recipient of the American Book Award. He has published poetry, novels, children's books, and, most recently, the award-winning Aristotle and Dante YA series.
Growing up in Chicago as the only daughter in a large Mexican-American family, Cisneros's work explores her experience of "always straddling two countries . . . but not belonging to either culture." Her celebrated first novel, The House on Mango Street, has been translated into over 20 languages.
An award-winning poet and author, Zamora was only nine years old when he left the relatives who had been raising him in El Salvador and set out, as an unaccompanied minor, on a harrowing three-thousand-mile journey to join his parents in California. He tells this story in his new memoir, Solito.
Engle is a poet and author born in Los Angeles. She was the first Latina author to win the Newbery Honor for her book The Surrender Tree: Poems of Cuba's Struggle for Freedom. Her YA memoir-in-verse, Enchanted Air describes her experience of growing up Cuban-American during the Cold War era.
These are just a handful of the amazing authors we uncovered in our research for this post. Please let us know if you have any favorites to add to the list.