How to Drink and Read Internationally Over the Summer

By Daniela Serrano

Summer in the United States is a time for reading and lounging and accepting the firm hug of the heat. It is also a time for drinking outside in those weird summer days that extend long into the night. There is no shortage of recommendations for books to read during summer, but here is a list to help further your reading of Latin American authors while enjoying drinks you would see locals drinking if you were to stroll the streets–or bars, or beaches, or holes in walls–of each country.

Mexico

Carmen Boullosa is a Mexican author whose work has been praised and translated all around the world. Her writing deals with issues of finding an identity and how language can help understand chasms between cultures and time. Books like Leaving Tabasco are best read while enjoying Cantaritos which are tequila, orange juice, lime, and chile cocktails.

Colombia

Margarita García Robayo was born in Cartagena. She is an award winning author and journalist who has lived in Argentina for a big part of her life. Her writing is the sort of beautiful and soft narrative that unfolds complex worlds in front of the reader. Scotch whisky on the rocks is a very popular drink in the coastal cities of Colombia, this is why the best possible pairing for a book like Fish Soup is a glass of Old Parr or Chivas.

Bolivia

Our Dead World is a collection of short stories by Liliana Colanzi. Fantasy and science fiction come alive with tales of kids who can communicate with creatures from outer space and people who are possessed by murderous spirits. Her writing has become one of the most well-known voices of contemporary Bolivian writing. Singani is a Bolivian liquor that is produced with grapes only from the Chuquisaca region of the country; this drink is also becoming increasingly popular in the United States and it is usually mixed with ice, lime, and ginger ale.

Argentina

The stories in Things We Lost in the Fire by Mariana Enríquez are weird and haunting. A sort of violence is weaved throughout the lives of all the characters but it is so subtly revealed that as a reader we are left with the same sense of confusion as the people who inhabit these pages. Did it really happen or did they dream about leaving an abusive husband stranded on the highway? As for drink, while I personally will never be able to understand the appeal Fernet holds for the people of Argentina, it is a truth that Fernet and coke is almost a national drink. Read Mariana Enriquez’s book while sipping on the equally uneasy taste of a Fernet and coke highball.

Chile

Oftentimes in Latin America writers come from the world of journalism first. This is the case for Lina Meruane. She has written not only multiple works of fiction, but she has also written important works of journalism tracing AIDS in Latin America or essays about her Palestinian background. In her fiction she brings a ruthless attention to the gritty detail that gives her writing exceptional texture. Read her story Rotten Fruit while drinking the national favorite of piscola: Chilean pisco (not to be confused with Peruvian pisco) and a dark soda.