15 Novels by Dominican Authors We're Immediately Adding to Our Fall Reading List
Every time we come across a novel by a Latinx author in a store or scroll past one online, we can't help but do a double-take. For so long, it wasn't something we saw in stores on the regular. But now, books by a new generation of Latinx authors are cropping on the shelves of mainstream retailers left and right. For Latinx book lovers, it's an absolute thrill to see. Latinx authors bring a new and fresh perspective to literature that feels like what we've been waiting for our whole lives. The growing popularity of many Latinx authors is also helping to bring some of our Latinx literature icons like Dominican writer Julia Alvarez, more attention and recognition as well. But if we want to keep seeing Latinx authors being recognized for their talent and lining those bookshelves, we have to support them. So with that in mind, we're bringing our readers another round-up of awesome books, this time exclusively by Dominican and Dominican-American authors, including the likes of New York Times bestseller, Elizabeth Acevedo, and the latest from the aforementioned, Julia Alvarez, amongst many others. With the exception of a few notable novelists, Dominican authors specifically, aren't often discussed in depth in literary conversations, but these days, it seems they are the ones forging a new path and carving out a compelling niche for themselves in the literary world, and that's something to celebrate. With all of that said, let's take a look at some of the novels by Dominican authors that are on our fall reading list.
In The Time of the Butterflies by Julia Alvarez
This Julia Alvarez classic is a must-read for anyone of Latinx descent. If you haven't yet read In The Time of the Butterflies ($16), it's Alvarez's interpretation of the story of the four Dominican sisters known as the "mariposas," three of whom were killed presumably because they were opponents of real-life dictator Raphael Trujillo. Although this one is classified as historical fiction, it quite accurately clues readers in on what it was like for people living in the Dominican Republic during Trujillo's reign, and the sheer determination it took to overcome him.
How the García Girls Lost Their Accents by Julia Alvarez
Released more than a decade after In the Time of the Butterflies, Julia Alvarez's How the García Girls Lost Their Accents ($17), introduced an entirely new generation to her powerful writing style. Julia again writes about four sisters from the Dominican Republic, but this set of sisters flees Trujillo and lands in New York City, where they must figure out how to become American and learn to fit in, while their parents desperately fight for them to hold onto their traditional ways.
Afterlife by Julia Alvarez
Julia Alvarez's latest, Afterlife ($24), departs quite a bit from the other two novels mentioned here. It's about a woman whose life turns tumultuous when her husband suddenly dies right after she retires from the college where she taught English for years. Her sister disappears and one day, a pregnant undocumented teenager shows up at her home. She finds there are no answers to the chaos she's in the midst of and instead she must embrace each challenge as it arises, with an open heart and an open mind. It's a quick read, but a poignant one.
The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo
Dominican poet Elizabeth Acevedo skyrocketed to literary fame after her novel-in-verse The Poet X ($12) was released. It's the recipient of the National Book Award for Young People's Literature, the Michael L. Printz Award, and the Pura Belpré Award, and is a New York Times bestseller. It's written from the perspective of a Dominican teenager growing up in Harlem, and struggling against her environment and her old-school and often abusive mother, to come into her own and figure out how to pursue her passion for poetry.
With The Fire On High by Elizabeth Acevedo
In her second novel, With The Fire on High ($13), Elizabeth Acevedo taps into the passion many Latinx people have for food. It's a fun novel about a teen mom, who turns to the kitchen to escape the stresses of her young life. She's gifted in the kitchen but doesn't think she'll ever be able to have a career as a chef. She chooses what she thinks is the responsible path, but her talent refuses to take the back burner.
Clap When You Land by Elizabeth Acevedo
Elizabeth Acevedo's latest novel, Clap When You Land ($19), is the emotional tale of a young girl living in the Dominican Republic who looks forward to her father's visits from New York every year. She's devastated when she finds out he's died in a plane crash. But she soon learns that he left her with something to fill the void: an American sister she never knew about.
Dominicana by Angie Cruz
Dominicana ($16) by Angie Cruz is a beautiful novel that illustrates the difficult immigration story of many Latinx people quite authentically. It's about a 15-year-old Dominican girl who receives a marriage proposal from a much older man, that she has no choice but to accept because her family believes the union will open up a world of opportunities for them. Despite being content where she is in the Dominican Republic, she has to move to New York City's Washington Heights with her new husband, where she'll have to let go of all she's known her entire life. She dreams of escaping, but when her husband returns to DR temporarily, she begins to feel hopeful.
A Taste of Sage by Yaffa Santos
Born and raised in New Jersey, Dominican author Yaffa S. Santos developed a love for cooking that was inspired and ignited by her heritage, and that ultimately ended up turning into her first novel, A Taste of Sage ($16). The book is a romance about a chef who has the uncanny ability to be able to read people's emotions simply by tasting the food they cook, which leads to some unexpected feelings when she indulges in her boss' cuisine.
Halsey Street by Naima Coster
Halsey Street ($15) by Naima Coster is a deeply emotional novel about a young woman who sacrifices her art career to move back to the Brooklyn neighborhood she grew up in to care for her father. She's confronted with the unsettling implications of gentrification in the place that once belonged to her, and must also grapple with feelings and emotions about her family that she buried long ago.
What's Mine and Yours by Naima Coster
Naima Coster's second novel, What's Mine and Yours ($26), is one of the newest books on this list. This time, Naima shifts her focus to the American south, in a story that spans twenty years, about two kids whose lives and families end up forever connected despite their vastly different upbringings. The book takes a deep dive into the loaded topics of race, politics, love, and family, and offers an interesting look at the complexities of modern relationships.
American Dreamer by Adriana Herrera
American Dreamer ($14) by Adriana Herrera is an LGBTQ romance about a cook who decides to take a huge risk and move his Afro-Caribbean food truck from New York City to a remote town upstate, where he thinks he'll be able to offer locals and vacationers something different. And he's not wrong, especially for one particular client who ends up falling head over heels for him. But like in any good romance, they'll have to get over a few bumps on the road if they're going to make it in life and love.
Tentacle by Rita Indiana
Originally written in Spanish, Tentacle ($14) by Rita Indiana is a dystopian fantasy novel set in the Dominican Republic. In the book, a young maid realizes that she's stuck in the middle of a voodoo prophecy and is tasked with traveling back in time to save the ocean, which will in turn save all of mankind. But first, she herself has to be transformed into something totally unexpected.
Papi by Rita Indiana
Published just a couple of years before Tentacle, Rita Indiana's Papi ($18) is about a young girl living in the Dominican Republic who is eager to meet her father who is visiting from the United States. She fantasizes about how great he'll be and all the cool things he'll have to show her, but reality doesn't meet her expectations, and when he finally arrives, she quickly realizes that he's far more monstrous than she ever could have imagined.
Ezrulie's Skirt by Ana-Maurine Lara
Ezrulie's Skirt ($15) by Ana-Maurine Lara is an older book that has received little attention outside of academic circles, but it's a powerful read that takes place in the Dominican Republic and deals with topics like the urbanization of the country, race, love, and tragedy, as several women traverse their ever-changing lives and stay connected to their roots, no matter the twists and turns their paths take.
Show and Prove by Sofia Quintero
Though it was published in 2015, Sofia Quintero's Show and Prove ($18) takes us all the way back to 1983 in the South Bronx. It's the story of several young people all striving toward different goals as they navigate the challenges of the world around them, rivalries and new love, over the course of a single summer highlighted by the growing hip hop movement and the racial tensions in the city that defined that era.