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Latinx and Hispanic Authors You Should Know

Latinx and Hispanic Authors You Should Know

Update your reading list with these amazing works from California's Latinx and Hispanic writers. Team


6 min read

October 25, 2020

California is a cultural melting pot that brings together languages, cuisines, and traditions from across the globe, many of which are showcased in the world of literature. Whether you’re looking for new novels by local authors or classic California-based books, you can gain a new perspective by choosing works written by people of color. 

Given that California is the state with the largest Hispanic and Latino population overall, it’s not surprising that the state is home to numerous Latinx and Hispanic authors, many of whom bring their culture and background into their writing, making for compelling and insightful reads. From immigrant stories and poignant memoirs to gripping thrillers and supernatural tales, works by Latinx and Hispanic writers should be on your list when heading to used bookstores in California or buying books online. Though this list is far from exhaustive, here are a few of the Latinx and Hispanic authors you must know.

Latino Authors to Know Now

Need something new to read? Grab one of these captivating books by California's Latinx and Hispanic writers.

Alex Espinoza

Coming from Tijuana, Mexico, Alex Espinoza has made a significant mark as a celebrated Hispanic author in California. Growing up in the San Gabriel Valley, he later honed his craft by earning an M.F.A. from the University of California, Irvine. Espinoza's literary debut, "Still Water Saints," launched in 2007, earned recognition as a Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers Selection, setting the stage for a distinguished writing career. As an award-winning writer, he has since expanded his bibliography with titles such as "The Five Acts of Diego León" and "Cruising: An Intimate History of a Radical Pastime," contributing profoundly to discussions on identity, history, and culture.

Notable Works Include:

Still Water Saints

In his first book, Espinoza chronicles a historic year in Agua Mansa, a mostly Latino community outside of Los Angeles, where residents come looking for candles, herbs, and charms to help with mental and physical wounds.

The Five Acts of Diego León

Set in Hollywood’s Golden Age, this book tells the story of Diego León—a gifted and ambitious young man raised in Mexico during the throes of the Mexican Revolution—who leaves everything and everyone he knows behind to follow his dreams. 

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Stephen D. Gutiérrez

One of the best Latino authors from California is Stephen D. Gutiérrez, who was born and raised in Los Angeles. He attended California State University, Chico, and then left for Ithaca, New York—where he was offered a fellowship at Cornell—before returning to the Golden State to teach at Fresno City College. Now a professor at Cal State East Bay, the acclaimed writer has penned numerous novels, short stories, and essays. He has also won the American Book Award and the Charles H. and N. Mildred Nilon Excellence in Minority Fiction Award for his works.

Notable Works Include:

Live From Fresno Y Los

This collection of short stories showcases the excitement, distress, exhilaration, and disappointments of growing up as a Chicano in Los Angeles and Fresno during the 1970s. 


Set in the barrios of East Los Angeles, these short tales follow two boys who are caught breaking into a house, a strange man traipsing around town, an introvert brooding on a drug deal, and an emerging writer.

Enjoy some relaxation time and dive into a good book to get transported to another world.

Michael Jaime-Becerra

Michael Jaime-Becerra holds a deep affection for his hometown of El Monte, a connection so strong that it led him to buy a home there. His educational journey took him to the University of California, Irvine, where he earned an M.F.A., and he later embraced a role as a professor at the University of California, Riverside. Jaime-Becerra is passionate about capturing the essence of California in his writing, steering clear of Los Angeles' glitz and glamour to spotlight the everyday lives of its residents. Through his work, he eloquently portrays the challenges and victories that define the human experience in the city.

Notable Works Include:

This Time Tomorrow

Winner of an International Latino Book Award, this novel is told from three distinct but equally moving perspectives. Gilbert Gaeta is a hardworking father living with his 13-year-old daughter, Ana; he dreams of a world where he could make a little extra money to live comfortably and buy his girlfriend an engagement ring. His girlfriend, Joyce, is a 36-year-old woman who cannot seem to move out of her father’s traditional Mexican household and feels as though the future she envisioned is slipping away. Meanwhile, Ana faces her own troubles at school. 

Every Night Is Ladies Night

This critically acclaimed collection of linked short stories showcases the lives of individuals—teenagers, grandparents, race car drivers, and beauty queens—striving to find their place in an indifferent world.

Rubén Martínez

Born and raised in Los Angeles, Rubén Martínez comes from a background rich in the heritage of Mexico and El Salvador, tracing his roots back through generations of immigrants. His journey into the literary world began at L.A. Weekly, where he distinguished himself as the first Latino member of the editorial team. His talents and insights led him to contribute thought-provoking essays to National Public Radio and to anchor the L.A.-focused political and cultural show, Life & Times, earning him an Emmy Award for his efforts.

Currently, Martínez shares his knowledge and passion for storytelling with students at Loyola Marymount University as a professor. An acclaimed author, his publications delve into themes of immigrant experiences, the impacts of globalization, and the vibrant culture and history of Los Angeles, securing multiple accolades for his contributions to literature.

Notable Works Include:

Crossing Over: A Mexican Family on the Migrant Trail

Get a glimpse into the lives of the Chavez family, who leave their small town in Mexico behind to pursue a new and better life in the United States. Their harrowing journey across the U.S.-Mexico border is followed by poignant stories of their time living in California, Wisconsin, and Missouri. 

The New Americans

This book follows the story of several families immigrating to America: a South Asian couple from the computer industry of India coming to work for a small start-up in Silicon Valley, two families of Nigerian refugees, a young woman leaving Palestine to marry a man in Chicago, a Mexican family who travels to work in the Midwest’s meatpacking plants, and two pro baseball prospects from the Dominican Republic. 

Desert America: Boom and Bust in the New Old West

In this memoir, Martínez depicts a world of extremes in the desert towns across the U.S. He describes a drug epidemic flourishing in the shadow of New Mexico’s richest zip codes, gentrification displacing longtime residents in Joshua Tree, and a race war taking place near the banks of the Rio Grande.

The Hispanic Female Authors You’ll Wish You Knew of Sooner

For the upcoming season, refresh your bookshelves with these great books by Latinx writers.

Reyna Grande

Reyna Grande is one of California’s fiercest female writers and among the most famous Mexican-American authors. Born in Guerrero, Mexico, Grande came to the U.S. as a child with her family, who immigrated to Los Angeles in hopes of lifting themselves out of poverty. Breaking new ground in her family, she proudly became the inaugural college graduate among her relatives, earning her Bachelor's degree in creative writing from the University of California, Santa Cruz, followed by a Master's in Fine Arts from Antioch University.

Her literary journey has led her to author multiple books, weaving narratives that explore immigration, the challenges of family separation, the impacts of language trauma, and the complexities of pursuing the American Dream. Her exceptional contributions to literature have been recognized with over ten prestigious awards, such as the American Book Award, the El Premio Aztlán Literary Award, and the International Latino Book Award, highlighting her significant impact in the field.

Notable Works Include:

The Distance Between Us: A Memoir

Grande shares the details of her life before and after she illegally immigrated from Mexico to the United States, describing her journey across the border, her life with an abusive father and an indifferent mother, and her American college experience.

A Dream Called Home: A Memoir

This book, which is a continuation of her earlier memoir, follows Grande as she works as a first-generation Latina college student and ambitious writer who is driven to start a new life for her family in America.

Marisela Norte

Marisela Norte is a writer and poet based in East Los Angeles. She is a groundbreaking artist in the world of performance poetry and is famous for her live readings and recordings of her works that explore the unseen side of L.A. Her poetry has appeared in various publications, including Rolling Stone, Elle, and Los Angeles Weekly.

Notable Work:

Peeping Tom Tom Girl

This award-winning collection of poems takes the reader on a journey into the heart and soul of what it means to be a Chicana living in modern-day SoCal.

Draw inspiration for your own writing from outstanding California-based authors and their notable works.

Wendy C. Ortiz

Wendy C. Ortiz was born and raised in Los Angeles. After receiving a bachelor’s degree from The Evergreen State College, she obtained an M.F.A. in creative writing and a master’s in clinical psychology from Antioch University. Now a psychotherapist by day and an author by night, Ortiz has written multiple books, poems, and essays that explore the intricacies of the human mind.

Notable Works Include:

Excavation: A Memoir

Ortiz recounts being raised by two alcoholic parents in the San Fernando Valley and reflects on the troublesome relationship she had with her eighth-grade teacher. 


This isn’t your typical memoir. In this unique book, Ortiz describes her dreams over a four-year period, boldly giving readers a glimpse into her mind, emotions, and memories. 

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