The 2020 Top 10 list is one of the most eclectic we’ve ever put together. Our editors and readers were impressed by these Latinx authors who made their mark in the publishing industry. For the first time ever, a children’s picture book tops our list. And also for the first time, we’ve selected a chapbook. These books are so good they will make you forget American Dirt ever happened. Congratulations to our authors for being part of an elite top ten list that started in 2006. Check out what our editors had to say about these gems.
1) Husband and wife team, Jorge and Megan Lacera, top our list with their extraordinary children’s book, Zombies Don’t Eat Veggies!. Their debut is a story about a charming zombie family with some Latinx flare, and the book is so good that there are already rumors of it being optioned by a major studio for adaptation into a film series.
2) Roy Guzmán, author of Catrachos, has written the best poetry debut of the year. His poems are inventive, queer, and full of heart. They invoke an urgent voice in the use of abundant dictions, imagination, and daring. It’s no wonder his poems are the talk of the literary world.
3) Michael Zapata‘s The Lost Book of Adana Moreau, an Israeli exile finds a manuscript that was supposed to have been destroyed decades earlier, and sets out to unravel the mystery. Science fiction, history, physics …this first book by Michael Zapata, of Ecuadorian and Jewish heritage, thrives in its liminality and invites us to explore what it means to be in exile.
4) A 2020 National Book Award Finalist, The Undocumented Americans, by Karla Cornejo Villavicencio, goes beyond the narratives portrayed in the media. Far from reporting straightforwardly, Villavicencio navigates magical realism, stream of consciousness, and testimonio to at times reclaim the stories of individuals whose stories deserve to be told.
5) Alan Pelaez Lopez is an AfroIndigenous poet and author of Intergalactic Travels: Poems from a Fugitive Alien, and the chapbook, to love and mourn in the age of disappointment. His Intergalactic Travels poems perform outstanding experimentation of language, hyper documenting the soul and body of the undocumented self.
6) Claribel Ortega‘s debut middle grade novel, Ghost Squad, is a spooky adventure tale packed with the type of girl power that will attract young readers. With roots in the Dominican Republic and plenty of talent, Ortega has been featured on Buzzfeed and Good Morning America.
7) Dr. Oriel Maria Siu’s children’s book, Rebeldita la Alegre en el País de los Ogros, is an enlightening tale about an undocumented little girl who lives in Ogreland. Sales for this book have been so popular that the Spanish-language edition is nearly sold out. But there is good news for readers–the English-language edition is set to come out in December, 2020.
8) Jose Hernandez Diaz is a 2017 NEA Poetry Fellow and the author of the chapbook, The Fire Eater (2020). His poems seamlessly combine surrealism and magical realism to render a profound realist account of everyday life in Los Angeles. With imagination and innovation, this book delivers on many fronts.
9) In Don’t Ask Me Where I’m From, Jennifer De Leon delivers a tightly-woven tale about the challenges Liliana Cruz faces when she’s accepted into a high school integration program aiming to reduce racial isolation. Can Liliana truly and fully be? She can, but not without growing pains: like helping out her younger brother while Mom works or worrying about her recently-deported father.
10) Ariana Brown is the recipient of the Andrew Julius Gutow Academy of American Poets Prize. This 2-time winner of the Best Poet award at the national collegiate poetry slam debuted her chapbook, Sana Sana. In it, Brown presents a fresh exploration on queer and black identity, finding community, interfacing with capitalism and offering a communal exploration in healing.