National Hispanic Heritage Month in the United States runs from September 15 until October 15 and celebrates “the histories, cultures and contributions of American citizens whose ancestors came from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean and Central and South America.” While Hispanic Heritage Month celebrates the contributions of American (USA) citizens of Hispanic descent, we want to celebrate the contributions of all Hispanics around the world by publishing a short list of travel books written by Hispanic and Latinx authors.
Hispanics have written about their travels for hundreds of years. Travel writing picked up during the colonial period which produced a number of diaries, so-called chronicles, and relaciónes. It helped introduce the wonders of the old world to the new, advance scientific and cultural knowledge around the globe, and blow the whistle on the horrors of colonial injustice and oppression.
We must not forget that the history of colonialism, power, and oppression is an indelible stain on the history of travel writing around the world and especially in the Americas. But despite this and the exploitative nature of the travel industry in much of Latin America still in the 21st century, we must look beyond the catchy headlines and understand that travel writing is not an inherently colonial or oppressive form of writing. It can be one, but it isn’t necessarily so. Even if it were, travel writing would still be an important genre to read for no other reason than to understand and remember our problematic past.
Because it is important to read the works of “world literature” in our own languages, we have compiled a short list of modern travel books by Hispanic authors penned in or translated into English. We also recognize that value in reading diverse voices in their own languages when possible, so we have compiled a list of travel books by Hispanic writers that have not yet been translated into English for hispanohablantes and to remind ourselves that there is a wide world of travel literature outside of the English-speaking world.
Let’s celebrate the works of Hispanic and Latinx authors of travel books during Hispanic Heritage Month!
Travel Books Written by Hispanic and Latinx Authors (in English)
Below are some travel book titles in the English language by Hispanic authors that come highly recommended. They include both translated works and works originally penned in English by Hispanic writers. If you think a book is missing from this list, contact us.
- Carlos Castaneda – The Teachings of Don Juan: A Yaqui Way of Knowledge* (1968)
- Julio Cortázar and Carol Dunlop – The Autonauts of the Cosmoroute (1983)
- Stephanie Elizondo Griest – Around the Bloc: My Life in Moscow, Beijing, and Havana (2004)
- Federico García Lorca – Sketches of Spain: Impressions and Landscapes (1918)
- Reyna Grande – The Distance Between Us (2012)
- Ernesto “Che” Guevara – The Motorcycle Diaries (1993)
- Luis Sepúlveda – Full Circle: A South American Journey (1996)
Travel Books Written by Hispanic and Latinx Authors (in Spanish)
The list of travel books written by Hispanic and Latinx authors that remain untranslated into English is long. Below are some titles that come well-recommended by friends, twitter, and the Spanish blogosphere. If you think a book is missing from this list, contact us.
- Maria Belmonte – Peregrinos de la belleza: Viajeros por Italia y Grecia (2015)
- Ramiro Calle – La otra India (2013)
- Gabriel García Márquez – De viaje por los países socialistas: 90 días en la “Cortina de hierro” (1978)
- Jordi Esteva – Socotra: La Isla de los genios (2011)
- Hernán Iglesias Illas – Miami: Turistas, colonos y aventureros en la última frontera de América Latina (2010)
- David Jiménez – Hijos de monzón (2007)
- Manuel Leguineche – El camino más corto (2016)
- Manuel de Lope – Iberia (La puerta iluminada and La imagen multiple) (2003-2005)
- Javier Reverte – Trilogía de África (1996-2002)
- Beatriz Sarlo – Viajes: De la Amazonia a las Malvinas (2014)
What do you think? Are we missing notable books? If so, contact us.
*A note to say that Castaneda’s book has been discredited as a memoir.
Last Updated on 30 September 2020 by Travel Writing World