YA Literature from Latin America: Arts Council England Project

In 2021 I was granted funding from Arts Council England as part of their Developing Your Creative Practice initiative.

This project has enabled me to research Young Adult Literature from Latin America and to produce presentations and samples of some of the books I discovered during the project.

You can read an interview with me about the project on the SCWBI British Isles Words and Pictures blog.

Further information on each book can be downloaded below and full synopses and translation samples are available on request.

Each of the books selected for this project has been written by an award-winning Latin American author and has achieved recognition in its own right; however none of them has had any of their full-length works translated and published in English…. yet.

Many thanks to the following people for their advice and support: Lawrence Schimel, Daniel Hahn, Rosalind Harvey, Ruth Ahmedzai Kemp, Lisa Davis, Jackie Friedman Mighdoll, Ellen Worrell, Johanna McCalmont, Sarah Rimmington, Neus Ferrer and Naomi Porter.

Why Latin America

According to data from the World Kid Lit website, in the last five years there have been just two young adult books published in English from Spanish-speaking Latin America. By including Portuguese-speaking Brazil in that count, it increases to four. If we focus solely on the UK publishing scene, none of those books were originally purchased by a UK-based publisher. This would suggest that this vast region of the world remains unrepresented on our Young Adult shelves. This is detrimental to our understanding of this rich, vibrant region as well as doing a disservice to those young people who identify as having Latin American heritage. They too deserve to see themselves depicted in the stories they read.

The two titles from Spanish-speaking Latin America that have been published in the last five years

While we often hear of a desire for a story about Latin American identity, what do we mean by this? People from Latin American should not be defined by their struggles or “otherness”. I believe is it possible to simply enjoy a great read that just happens to have been written elsewhere and therefore the books I have chosen showcase a variety of the genres available. It is important to mention that this is just a selection and further exploration of what this region has to offer would be very exciting.

You can also read this this interview on World Kid Lit between me and David Bowles, the translator of The Immortal Boy (pictured above).

Recommended titles for translation

The Wild Ones (Salvajes) by Antonio Ramos Revillas | Mexico

A coming-of-age novel about trying to fight against poverty in northern Mexico amidst societal prejudice and lawless gangs

  • Fundación Cuatrogatos Prize, Winner, 2022
  • Included in the White Ravens Catalogue 2021

The Darkness of Colours (La oscuridad de los colores) by Martín Blasco | Argentina

A historical thriller based on a chilling social experiment, set in turn-of-the-century Buenos Aires

  • Best Edited Novel 2015, Awarded by the Argentine Chamber of Publishing
  • Fundación Cuatrogatos Prize, Finalist 2016
  • Prix Farniente 2019, Belgium, Awarded for the French Translation

Never Tell Anyone Your Name (Nunca digas tu nombre) by Federico Ivanier | Uruguay

An unusual second-person narrative with an unexpected fantasy twist about a boy who finds himself in an unfamiliar city with eight hours to kill

  • Bartolomé Hidalgo Prize 2020, Awarded by the Uruguay Book Chamber;
  • National Literary Prize, Second Place, 2020, Awarded by the Uruguayan Ministry for Culture and Education
  • Fundación Cuatrogatos Prize, Finalist, 2022

Martina Valiente; Martina Valiente: The Face of Fear; Martina Valiente: The Final Episode by Federico Ivanier | Uruguay

A culturally significant fantasy quest trilogy with strong female characters

  • Considered a modern classic of Uruguayan children’s literature
  • 2004 National Literary Prize, First Place, Awarded by the Uruguayan Ministry for Culture and Education 2004
  • Bartolomé Hidalgo Prize 2004: Martina Valiente
  • Bartolomé Hidalgo Prize 2005: Martina Valiente II: la cara del miedo

Glazes (Veladuras)

Glazes (Veladuras) by María Teresa Andruetto | Argentina

A short literary novel about a young Indigenous woman who recounts the tragic events in her life, her struggles with her mental health and how she has learnt to heal

  • Banco del Libro, Venezuela, 2007
  • Distinguished by the 2006 Argentinian Children’s and Youth Literature Association

María Teresa Andruetto won the Hans Christian Andersen Award for Writing in 2012, and in 2021 she was nominated for the Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award.

Financial Support

Financial Support may be available to help publishers cover the translation costs. For more details, please download this document below.