Chile has a rich literary history. Known as the ‘land of poets’, this long skinny nation is famous for its bold and unusual works of literature that cover everything from love, to politics, to the country’s dramatic landscape As a result, Chileans are extremely proud of their literature – and so they should be. This nation of just 17 million people has produced not one, but two Nobel Laureates for Literature. To name but a few famous Chilean authors and poets, you may have heard of Pablo Neruda, Nicanor Parra, or famous feminist writer Gabriela Mistral.
However, poetry isn’t all that Chile has to offer; there are also several excellent novelists. Now, many of these works have been translated from Spanish to English, gaining increasing popularity outside of Latin America. In this article, we introduce you to three contemporary Chilean authors and their most famous works. From here, you can start to explore everything Chile’s incredible literary tradition has to offer.
Isabel Allende is one of the most successful female Chilean authors. She was born in Peru to Chilean parents in 1942. In her twenties she was a journalist in her native Chile, until she was forced to flee after her uncle President Salvador Allende was assassinated during General Pinochet’s 1973 coup. Isabel Allende is most famous for containing elements of ‘magical realism’ in her writing, whilst exploring social and political history of Chile. For instance, The House of Spirits tells the moving story of four generations of the Trueba family in Chile.
José Donoso was born in Santiago, Chile, in 1924. However, the writer spent most of his life in self-imposed exile in protest against General Pinochet’s dictatorship. However, the writer returned to the nation after Pinochet was deposed and remained there until his death in 1996. Donoso played an important role in Latin American literary history, using surrealism, black humour, and social satire as political commentary. His most famous work is Curfew, which takes an authentic and vivid look at the Chilean dictatorship. Unfolding over a period of just 24 hours, the story describes how different political actors stood to gain from the death of Chile’s most celebrated poet, Pablo Neruda.
Robert Bolaño was one of the most celebrated Chilean authors. Described by The New York Times as “the most significant Latin American literary voice of his generation”, Bolaño wrote a number of important novels, short stories, and poems. For example, his most famous novel was The Savage Detectives. This three-part story follows two poets’ quest across continents as they investigate the mysterious disappearance of another poet, Cesárea Tinajero. Bolaño also wrote several works that were critical of Chile’s right-wing politics under General Pinochet.
Explore more Chilean authors and literature
Chile is a country with a fascinating cultural history. This article includes only a sample of the incredible writers that the ‘land of poets’ has produced. Today, Chile continues to produce amazing novelists, artists and poets. What’s more, there’s no better way to learn more about Chile’s enchanting culture than to visit. From the cosmopolitan streets of Santiago, to the rolling hills of wine country, to the dramatic ice fields of Patagonia, Chile is a wonderful place to go on vacation. For more inspiration, take a look at our brochure.