Latin American Short Stories: Hispanic, Caribbean, Chicano, Cuban & More

The short stories on this page were all written by authors from a Latin American country.

“An Act of Vengeance” by Isabel Allende

Dulce Rosa is the daughter of Senator Orellano, the most powerful man in the province, and enjoys the advantages of her position. She’s charming and good-looking but also develops a reputation for great beauty. Eventually, the tide of the Civil war turns and Tadeo Cespedes marches against the province. There’s no way her father’s defenses can hold out.

“An Act of Vengeance” can be read in the Amazon preview of Short Stories by Latin American Women: The Magic and the Real. (36% into preview)

“Why Reeds Are Hollow” by Gabriela Mistral

The reeds started a revolution in the plant world—all plants should be the same height. A few objections are ignored and the wind carries the message everywhere. (Summary)

“The Decapitated Chicken” by Horacio Quiroga

Mazzini and Berta have four developmentally disabled sons, aged eight to twelve. They spend most of the day sitting on a bench in their own filth. Their parents neglect them. Their relationship has deteriorated, as each wants to blame the other for their sons’ condition. They’re hesitant to have any more children.

This story can be read in the preview of The Decapitated Chicken and Other Stories.

“Names/Nombres” by Julia Alvarez

In this essay, Alvarez talks about the difficulty Americans have with her family’s names. As soon as they enter the country, the Immigration officer pronounces it wrong. This continues through the years. Julia’s preference for how her name should be said evolves as she grows up. (Summary & Theme)

“The Whale House” by Sharon Millar

Laura and Mark scatter their baby’s ashes in the ocean. She knows he blames her. She hadn’t rested as much as the doctor advised. Pregnant at forty-six, she continued to cook and work around the house. Laura and Mark have two teenagers. A third, Jeannine, is also Laura’s daughter, but everyone believes they’re sisters.

Some of this story can be read in the preview of Pepperpot: Best New Stories from the Caribbean(54% into preview)

“Axolotl” by Julio Cortazar

A man goes to a zoo aquarium and stands for hours watching the axolotls (larval salamanders). He says he has become one of them. He explains how this transformation took place.

This is the first story in the preview of Blow-Up: And Other Stories(16% into preview)

“Arts and Trades” by Rubem Fonseca

The narrator is one of the new rich. He made his money buying and selling. He’s improved his appearance, lives in a mansion, married a woman from a good family and has a mistress. One thing money hasn’t been able to fix is his lack of education. He knows that people think he’s a dummy. He reads an ad in the paper from a ghostwriter offering to write whatever the client wants. This could solve his problem.

This story can be read in the preview of Winning the Game and Other Stories(12% into preview)

“A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings” by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

In a small town, an old man with wings washes up on shore. There are many ideas about what he is and where he’s from. A couple takes him and locks him up on their property.

This is the eleventh story in the preview of The Big Book of Modern Fantasy(78% into preview)

“The Improbable Imposter Tom Castro” by Jorge Luis Borges

Arthur Orton left London as a young man and went out to sea. He was a jovial and gentle idiot. In Sydney, he became acquainted with a servant, Ebenezer Bogle, a moderate and highly intelligent man. They became friends. In 1865, Bogle saw a report in the paper that gave him an idea.

This story can be read in the preview of Collected Fictions(Pg 13)

“The Triumph” by Clarice Lispector

Luísa wakes up at nine but doesn’t get out of bed. It’s unusually silent. It hits her suddenly that he left yesterday. They’d fought again. She had begged him to stay before, and he always had. She thinks about the fact that he’s gone.

This story can be read in the preview of Complete Stories(33% into preview)

“Luís Soares” by Machado de Assis

Luis Soares sleeps twelve hours during the day and stays up at night. He lives on a fortune inherited from his father. He doesn’t read the paper, has avoided marriage, and is indifferent to religion and politics. He pays no attention to his finances, and one day finds he has spent all his money.

This story can be read in the preview of The Collected Stories of Machado de Assis(46% in)

“Oh, Yeah” by Mario Acevedo

The narrator and Enrico have taken on Canela as a third partner in a job. They’ve done time before and they don’t want to again. Canela is their guarantee—he’s not too bright, so if anything goes wrong they’ll ditch him. They go over everything with Canela, and make sure he knows the plan.

This story can be read in the preview of Hit List: The Best of Latino Mystery(35% in)

“Lather and Nothing Else” by Hernando Tellez

An armed man enters a barbershop for a shave. The barber recognizes him; they are on opposite sides of some kind of political conflict that has turned violent. He has to decide what he will do with this opportunity. (Analysis)

“Lather and Nothing Else”

“The Dead Man” by Horacio Quiroga

A man is out working in his banana plantation when he falls on his machete.

“Midnight Mass” by Joaquim Maria Machado de Assis

Mr. Nogueira relates a conversation he had with a thirty-year-old woman when he was seventeen. He doesn’t fully understand it to the present day. He was staying with Mr. Menezes, a notary, and his wife, Conceição, in Rio de Janeiro. Menzes goes to the “theater” once a week, really a rendezvous with another woman. On Christmas Eve, Mr. Nogueira is planning on going to a midnight mass. While staying up and waiting, Conceição joins him.

“Night Drive” by Rubem Fonseca

A man gets home from work, goes about his usual evening routine, and asks his wife if she’d like to go for a drive—knowing that she wouldn’t.

“My Life with the Wave” by Octavio Paz

A man gets seduced by an ocean wave. It finds its way home to him and they have a tumultuous love affair.

“The Challenge” by Mario Vargas Llosa

An older man informs three men that a member of their gang, Justo, will be fighting the Gimp, a member of a rival gang. The men prepare for the encounter and talk about what led up to it.

I’ll keep adding Latin American short stories as I find them.