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5 Contemporary Afro-Latinx Authors You Should Know

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Mariela Santos Muñiz

Staff Writer

An avid reader and lover of words, Mariela Santos-Muniz currently works as a freelance journalist and writer. Bilingual in English and Spanish, she holds an M.A. from Boston University in International Relations and International Communications. While she learned a lot during her time in Boston and had some really cool experiences there, she's happy to now be back in warm Puerto Rico.

It seems like avid readers always have a TBR list, and sometimes they can be really long. Readers organize their list in different ways, and the manner in which they build the list varies too.

If you read diversely – which is necessary – then you’ve probably already read books by Latinx authors. While there are many good books by Latinx authors, including  white Latinx authors, it’s important to recognize the diversity in Latinx communities. There isn’t one “correct” way to be or look Latinx, and there isn’t one Latinx experience.

Part of Latinx communities are their Afro-Latinx members. Both Black and Latinx, Afro-Latinx people often face discrimination within their own communities, where whiteness is valued.

When reading books by Latinx authors, it’s crucial to include works by Afro-Latinx writers as well. Below are five contemporary authors that you should know, to get you started.

Adriana Herrera

Adriana Herrera is writer of romance novels with diverse characters, and happy endings. In addition to her writing work, she also works as a trauma therapist in New York City, according to her website.

Books by Herrera include The Dreamer Series: American Dreamer (Book 1), American Fairytale (Book 2), American Love Story (Book 3), and American Sweethearts (Book 4). Additionally, there are standalone books – not part of a series – and stories in anthologies.

The book American Love Story won a Ripped Bodice Award for Excellence in Romantic Fiction in 2020, the inaugural year of the awards, Book Riot reported.

Willie Perdomo

Poet Willie Perdomo’s work has been recognized with a Pushcart Prize nomination and his appointment as a New York Foundation for the Arts Poetry Fellow. He was picked for the latter twice. In addition, Perdomo’s book Smoking Lovely won a PEN Beyond the Margins Award.

Music and New York City are important aspects of much of his work.

Poetry books by Perdomo include The Crazy Bunch, Where a Nickel Costs a Dime, and The Essential Hits of Shorty Bon Bon. He has also written children’s books about Hall of Fame baseball player Roberto Clemente and writer and activist Langston Hughes.

In addition to his writing, Perdomo is also an English teacher, per

Mayra Santos Febres

Poet and essayist Mayra Santos Febres is one of the Caribbean’s most renowned author at the moment, as Revista.Global says. Complex female characters and romances are components of several of her stories.

Among her works are Sirena Selena vestida de pena, La amante de Gardel, and Nuestra señora de la noche. Santos Febres’s writing is in Spanish, and many of her books are also available in English. She has won several awards.

Santos Febres is also a professor at the University of Puerto Rico, and organizes the Festival de la Palabra in Puerto Rico. That’s the Festival of the Word, in English.

Elizabeth Acevedo

Poet Elizabeth Avecedo is the author of The Poet X, With the Fire on High, Clap When You Land, and more.

Her writing has won several awards, like the National Book Award for Young People’s Literature, a Pura Belpre Award, and a Printz Award for Excellence in Young Adult Fiction, to name a few.

Her stories often center the experiences of young Latinx women, and their journeys of growth.

Acevedo is also a National Poetry Slam Champion, and you can watch her perform on YouTube.

Sulma Arzu-Brown

Sulma Arzu-Brown has written several bilingual (English and Spanish) books, like as Bad Hair Does Not Exist!¡Pelo Malo No Existe! and My Best Friend Likes Boys More Than Me!

The first book touches upon a subject that negatively affects Black Latinx people, and that is the notion of “bad hair.” Importantly, it rejects the idea that there is such a thing as “bad hair.”

In her own words on Linkedin, she is “a proud Garufina woman born in Honduras, Central America who came to New York City at the tender age of six.” Not only does she write children’s books, Arzu-Brown also currently works at the New York City Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.