13 Best Books Set in Argentina

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The best books set in Argentina, ranging from fiction to nonfiction on the country’s history or autobiographical stories, are guaranteed to transport you there!

Dreaming of visiting Argentina? Here are the best books set in Argentina that will take you there, without even having to leave home!

Argentina is the southernmost country in South America. It is a country with deep-rooted customs and traditions. Its people are characterized by being nice, friendly, and fun, passionate about football, and fanatical about its clubs and players.

Another must-see is its traditions and the typical foods of the country, with its characteristic yerba mate with or without sugar, roasts with friends or family, and alfajores with dulce de leche.

Another aspect to take into account is that Argentina, due to its location presents a great diversity of climates: warm subtropical in the north, temperate in the center, arid in the foothills, and cold in the south.

For example, among its attractions you can visit the Iguazú Falls, the Aconcagua, a mountain in the Cordillera de Los Andes at 6962m high, the Perito Moreno glacier and you can even sail in the waters of the end of the world in Ushuaia.

If we talk about literature, it is one of the most relevant Spanish-speaking countries in literature. Many literary works by Argentine writers reflect the memory and history of the country and the struggles and ideals of society.

Some of the best known are Jorge Luis Borges, José Hernández, Julio Cortázar, Roberto Arlt, Alejandra Pizarnik, Ernesto Sábato.

Are you interested in learning more about Argentine culture? These are the best books set in Argentina, ranging from fiction to nonfiction on the country’s history or autobiographical stories, that are guaranteed to transport you there!

We update our book lists frequently, so please share your favorite Argentinean novels. Let’s get started!

San Martin Square and Cordoba Cathedral Argentina

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Novels and Fiction set in Argentina

The Gaucho Martin Fierro

The Gaucho Martin Fierro by José Hernández

Translated by: Frank G. Carrino, Alberto J. Carlos, and Norman Mangouni

Martín Fierro is an example of the historical Argentine gaucho and narrates the stories of his life in the Pampa wandering aimlessly in poverty and being discriminated against and excluded by society that at the same time is in charge of using him for tasks that nobody wants to do.

This book, written in verse, is a critique of the harsh reality that the men sent to the border had to experience and the contempt for the Argentine gaucho. It is the protest expressed through the life of a gaucho, forced to resign his freedom due to the socio-economic changes that invaded his territory.

The book was written in 1872 and is considered a masterpiece of Argentine literature.

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the wind that lays waste

The Wind That Lays Waste by Selva Almada

Translated by: Chris Andrews

In this novel, the characters are clear, corporeal and make their voices heard. The same thing happens with the context: the living mountain, the strong sun, the stunted trees, the broken cars, the sweaty shirts, and the destroyed lives.

It tells the story of Reverend Pearson and his daughter, who live traveling in their car, from town to town, preaching the word of the Lord. Due to a mechanical failure, they will be stranded in the oppressive heat of Chaco, in northern Argentina. There, Gringo Brauer, the local mechanic, will try to fix the vehicle together with Tapioca, his assistant, who will be enchanted by the foreigner’s bewitching speech when he speaks to him about God.

It is the first novel by Argentine writer Selva Almada and has been translated into 5 languages since its publication.

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the dangers of smoking in bed

The Dangers of Smoking in Bed by Mariana Enríquez 

Translated by: Megan McDowell

This novel is made up of twelve stories where terror infiltrates everyday life and not science fiction. Each story disturbs the reader and invites him to take a walk in the museum of horrors.

But in addition to showing us the darkest and gloomiest side of human beings, Enríquez also criticizes the political, economic, and social situation in Argentina.

If we talk about themes, we could group the stories into four categories:

1) the world of popular legends, pagan gods, witches who carry out mysterious curses;
2) body horror, with deformations, cannibalism, and mutilations;
3) real horrors that have permeated Argentine society, albeit with a supernatural twist; and
4) the apparition of ghosts and supernatural terror.

Written against the backdrop of contemporary Argentina, and with resounding tenderness towards those in pain, in fear, and in limbo, this new collection from one of Argentina’s most exciting writers finds Enriquez at her most sophisticated, and most chilling.

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bad girls

Bad Girls by Camila Sosa Villada

Translated by: Kit Maude

Bad Girls is a mix between autobiography and fiction, a story of survival and memory.

In this book, Camila Villada tells us about her life from her poor and violent childhood, arriving in Córdoba where she will start university and find her place of belonging among the trans sex workers of Parque Sarmiento.

It grips and entertains us while also challenging ideas about love, sexuality, gender, and identity. It is a cry of fury and denunciation, but also of hope, of giving light where there is only darkness, exclusion, dehumanization, and loneliness.  

Expected publication: May 3rd, 2022

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things we lost in the fire

Things We Lost in the Fire by Mariana Enríquez

Translated by: Megan McDowell

Enriquez takes the reader into a world of Argentine Gothic. Things We Lost in the Fire is a powerful exploration of what happens when our darkest desires are left to roam unchecked, and signals the arrival of an astonishing and necessary voice in contemporary fiction.

As in “The Dangers of Smoking in Bed” this book also contains 12 stories that are not related to each other but do have things in common. All the stories take place in Argentina, characterized by its long road trips, its crowded streets, its dark past with the dictatorship, and the ever-present cry of the protest. And all the stories, except for one, have women as protagonists.

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the mad toy

The Mad Toy by Roberto Arlt

Translated by: James Womack

It is Arlt’s first novel and is partly considered autobiographical. The life story of Silvio Astier takes place in the slums of Buenos Aires, Argentina, at the beginning of the 20th century.

The novel deals with the growth and life experience of Silvio, who constantly tries to get out of poverty and the humiliation that living in those conditions means to him.

However, the common denominator for him is the failure to carry out any of the projects he undertakes and also the limitations of a person born in humble conditions, and the lack of possibilities to escape.

This book also represents a critique of the accessibility of culture in the lower class, and also shows how the impossibility of improving his quality of life leads Silvio to a cesspool identical to his neighborhood, a sad world, without values and full of injustices.

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thursday night widows

Thursday Night Widows by Claudia Piñeiro

Translated by: Miranda France

If what you are interested in reading is a mystery, Piñeiro does an excellent job in this book. The story takes place 50 kilometers from Buenos Aires at the beginning of the year 2000, revealing the relentless social decline of Argentina at the turn of the century.

Behind high walls, hidden from the poverty, crime, and filth of the people on the streets, live a group of wealthy families in the private neighborhood Altos de la Cascada.

While happy lives are seen on the outside, inside the walls of their homes the reality is very different.

In this neighborhood, on Thursday nights, a group of friends gathers away from the eyes of their children, their maids, and their wives, who, excluded from the manly encounter, call themselves “the widows of Thursdays.” But one night the routine is broken and that fact allows us to discover the dark side of a perfect life.

This novel is a critique of the prevailing hypocrisy within the wealthy class, and its desire to succeed and appear, revealing racial conflicts and fears based on prejudice.

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Furia by Yamile Saied Méndez

This young adult novel set in Argentina follows a teenage girl, Camila, who lives a double life.

At home, she is a careful daughter, living within her mother’s narrow expectations, in her rising soccer-star brother’s shadow, and under the abusive rule of her short-tempered father. But on the field, she is La Furia, a powerhouse of skill and talent with big dreams.

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Fictions (Ficciones) by Jorge Luis Borges

Translated by: Anthony Kerrigan and Anthony Bonner

The seventeen pieces in Ficciones demonstrate the whirlwind of Borges’s genius and mirror the precision and potency of his intellect and inventiveness, his piercing irony, his skepticism, and his obsession with fantasy.

Borges sends us on a journey into a compelling, bizarre, and profoundly resonant realm; we enter the fearful sphere of Pascal’s abyss, the surreal and literal labyrinth of books, and the iconography of eternal return. To enter the worlds in Ficciones is to enter the mind of Jorge Luis Borges, wherein lies Heaven, Hell, and everything else in between.

Please note: this is a collection of short stories by an Argentine author.

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Nonfiction Books about Argentina

nunca mas never again

Nunca Mas Never Again: The Report of the Argentine National Commission on the Disappeared

This book collects and adapts the report issued by the commission regarding the disappearances, kidnappings, torture, and crimes that occurred in Argentina during the military dictatorship between 1976 and 1983.

The darkest time in Argentine history. It testifies to the disappearance and death of more than 8,961 people and maintains that human rights were systematically and organically violated by state repression, using a terror methodology planned by the Armed Forces.

The title “Never again” was proposed by Marshall Meyer, because it had been the slogan used by the survivors of the Warsaw Ghetto to repudiate the atrocities of Nazism. Likewise, the book is also known worldwide as the “Sabato Report” since it was Ernesto Sabato who presided over the commission and delivered the report in 1984 to then-President Raúl Alfonsín.

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The Argentina Reader

The Argentina Reader: History, Culture, Politics by Gabriela Nouzeilles and Graciela Montaldo 

A literary work that will make you discover the country in all its complexity, narrating its history, illustrating its culture, and talking to its people.

The story of a country that was one of the richest nations in the world, and yet ended up with an unbalanced economy and its society in constant tension and frustration.

This book will take you on a journey from the Spanish colonial regime, going through more than 200 years of history since its independence, until reaching the emergence of Peronism, then the period of the military dictatorship that marked the darkest and most terrifying time in the country and, finally the new global economy and the principles of neoliberalism.

In addition, the book contains photographs, poems, and excerpts from writings that have never before been translated into English.

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In Patagonia

In Patagonia by Bruce Chatwin

If what you are looking for is to read about tourism in Argentina, Bruce Chatwin, an English novelist, and travel writer, recounts his experience of the trip in 1977 that lasted six months.

The story is full of descriptions, fragments of history, and unforgettable anecdotes, which bring us a little closer to the landscape and life in Patagonia. Chatwin conveys his desire for life, adventure, and the search for almost forgotten legends, the descendants of Welsh immigrants, and the log cabin built by Butch Cassidy.

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Children’s Books Set in Argentina

The Magic Bean Tree

The Magic Bean Tree: A Legend from Argentina by Nancy Van Laan

Illustrated by: Beatriz Vidal

The evil bird who lives on top of the magic tree that grows in the Argentine pampas has the power to stop the rain, so one summer, a little boy risks everything to save his village from dying of thirst by taking a stand against the powerful bird.

Illustrated with charming folk-art-like paintings and retold with simplicity and drama, this legend of a child’s courage and faith explains why Argentineans believe that good luck can be found in the shade of a carob tree.

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Best Books Set in Argentina

These are some of the best books set in Argentina.

Have you read any of these books set in Argentina? Do you have any favorite books set in Argentina that I should add to this list? Let me know in the comments below!

Related: 19 Exciting Books Set in South America

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Where next?

Start with this list of the very best travel adventure books. It includes great reads that will fuel your wanderlust and have you staying up late to finish them.

You should also check out the following series of book lists set in specific destinations:

Egypt | India | Alaska | Africa

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