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Exposing the UK to Latin American Literature


Die, My Love by Ariana Harwicz, The President’s Room by Ricardo Romero, and Slum Virgin by Gabriela Cabezón Cámara, the first three books published by Charco Press


Charco Press was formed by Carolina Orloff (a University of Edinburgh graduate) and Samuel McDowell to showcase contemporary Latin American literature in translation and to expose the UK reader to new and exciting voices by featuring authors never before published in English.

They were spurred into action by what they saw as a stagnated landscape with regards to Latin American literature available in English. The literature currently being produced in Latin America, particularly by the younger generations, is vast, varied and extremely interesting, yet only a very small percentage is translated into English. ‘Oh I love Latin American literature’, is the usual refrain when people are asked about who they’ve read recently from that region, before the usual names are rattled off: García Marquez, Isabel Allende, maybe Borges, and very seldom a more contemporary name such as Bolaño; and always ‘magic realism’. In other words, although all these writers are iconic and still very much referential, the general view that Orloff and McDowell encountered of the literature from this part of the world tends to be dated by 30 or more years.

Meanwhile, across Latin America, scores of extremely talented writers have been emerging in the last decades, with stories and perspectives that have captured the attention of readers not just in Latin America and Spain, but across the world. These are voices that have been shaped by a very different experience of recent history, politically and socio-economically speaking. They have stories to tell that are fuelled by experiences that can be touching, funny and, at times, brutal. Why should English language readers be left out? Why should they be denied the discovery of these award-winning authors?

So, they decided to start Charco Press. The name itself is a nod to their mission – charco is Spanish for ‘puddle’, and ‘crossing the puddle’ is a colloquial euphemism in some parts of Latin America for heading overseas, going to new territory. That is what Charco Press is doing with these titles – bringing them across the puddle into the territory of the English-speaking readership.


The covers of Fireflies by Luis Sagasti, and Southerly by Jorge Consiglio, recently published by Charco Press.


Their first three books were released in September 2017: Die, My Love by Ariana Harwicz, The President’s Room by Ricardo Romero and Slum Virgin by Gabriela Cabezón Cámara. Three very different titles, by three very different authors, each with a very distinct style, and none of them have been translated into English before. All three are from Argentina, a way of demonstrating the breadth of originality coming out of just that one country alone.

Charco Press have just published two other titles, Fireflies by Luis Sagasti, and Southerly by Jorge Consiglio. All five titles have received formidable critical acclaim, including one of them being long-listed for the Republic of Consciousness Prize. The press intends to publish five to six books a year. In 2018, Charco Press will be publishing authors from a broad array of countries, including Resistance by Brazilian author Julián Fuks (winner of the José Saramago Literary Prize) and The Distance Between Us by Renato Cisneros, which sold over 35,000 copies in the author’s native Peru and was longlisted for France’s Prix Médicis award.

A few relevant links:

Charco Press website

Profile featured in Asymptote

UoE Graduate profile

Interview with Carolina Orloff in Bookblast

About the Author:

Carolina Orloff | A Latin American Literature PhD graduate at the University of Edinburgh, Carolina is the co-founder of publishing house Charco Press.

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