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Latinos Have Won Nobel Prizes Too, You Know


The nominations for the Nobel Prize came out recently and there weren’t many on the list that were Latino, but that doesn’t mean it’s never happened. We love to read at TuVez. It may surprise some of you that we also enjoy reading books. Not just pop-up books, but books filled with ideas and moving stories, (though pop-up books are awesome). This author knew he wanted to be a writer after he read Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s “One Hundred Years of Solitude”. To hear some people talk, you’d think that the greatest Latino literary achievement was writing the menu at “El Pollo Loco”. The truth is that some of the best writers of all time were Spanish speakers. From Miguel de Cervantes’ “Don Quijote” to Junot Diaz, who won the Pulitzer Prize for “The Brief and Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao”, we’ve been tearing up the literature scene for a long time. So, here is a list of 5 Latino writers that have won the Nobel Prize in Literature. If you haven’t read their stuff, you should. Now.

Mario Vargas Llosa

The latest Latino Nobel Laureate is Mario Vargas Llosa who won in 2010. Mario has been one of Latin America’s greatest writers since the late 60’s. His most famous novels are “Conversation in the Cathedral” about a guy finding out his father’s role in the brutal dictatorship of Manuel Odria and “The Green House” which weaves together several stories into a narrative revolving around a brothel in the desert. Mario even ran for president of Peru in the 90’s, but lost to Alberto Fujimori. Don’t worry, Mario. What has Fujimori ever written besides death warrants? Nothing.

Octavio Paz

Octavio is one of Mexico’s greatest writers and is credited with having some of the best insights into the Mexican mind. He won the Nobel Prize in 1990, due in large part to his monumental work, “The Labyrinth of Solitude”. He says that because Mexicans neither have the fullness of their pre-Colombian heritage nor their Spanish ancestry, they are alone. They hide behind masks of solitude, abandoned by both of their “parents”. That’s some deep stuff, dude.

Gabriel Garcia Marquez

Gabriel won the Nobel Prize in 1992 for his groundbreaking novels and short stories. His most famous books are “A Hundred Years of Solitude” about a century in the life of a family in rural Colombia and “Love in the Time of Cholera” about a doomed love affair between two people of different classes. He’s probably the most well known of these guys to the American audience. You may even have had him assigned in a high school or college English class. If so, you are lucky. Did you really want to read “Billy Bud” or “The Scarlet Letter” for the 20th time? The answer is no.

Pablo Neruda

Ol’ Pablo won the Nobel Prize in 1971, two years before he died. Marquez said of him, “He was the greatest poet of the 20th century in any language.” We totally agree. Even if you don’t like poetry, you should read some Neruda. If you can read Spanish, check out the original text. Even in English, his genius is apparent. Like this line: “Full woman, fleshly apple, hot moon,/ thick smell of seaweed, crushed mud and light,/ what obscure brilliance opens between your columns?” Amazing.

Miguel Angel Asturias

He’s one of the lesser known names on this list in the United States. Miguel won the Nobel in 1967, due in large part to his incredible book “Men of Maize”. It’s about the conflict between the Indians that see maize as sacred and the foreign corporations that see it (and the Indians) as commodities to be exploited. Depressing? Yes, but well written and thoroughly enjoyable. Not an easy feat given the subject matter.

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