16 Best Spanish Authors Of All Time

Discovery the history, culture, and beauty of Spain and Latin America by reading these top best 15 Spanish authors.

From Latin America to Europe, the Spanish language spans the globe, and many writers over the centuries have written novels, poems, and short stories in this language. Spanish authors have contributed to the entire literature world, with the first modern novel coming from the Spanish language and many influential works in other areas. 

Many works in Spanish have English translations, allowing a new generation of readers to discover these works without reading them in the original language. Still, much of the poetry and cadence of the works is best seen with the original language translation. 

Popular Spanish Authors

Best Spanish Authors

If you want to appreciate the various Spanish-speaking cultures globally, literature is a great place to start. This list of the top 15 Spanish authors will help you understand what makes Spanish and Latin American cultures colorful and influential.

1. Carlos Ruiz Zafon

Best Spanish authors: Carlos Ruiz Zafon
Manuel Seco, CC BY-SA 3.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Carlos Ruiz Zafon was born in Barcelona. He first worked in advertising, which sparked his love for writing. He eventually moved to Los Angeles to work as a screenwriter but died of cancer at 55.

Zafon published several Spanish-language novels throughout his life, with The Prince of Mist being his first in 1993. He published four young adult novels in Spanish, some of which had English translations, before publishing The Shadow of the Wind, his first adult novel, and the first of a series entitled The Cemetery of Forgotten Books. He is the most widely published contemporary Spanish writer with books published in 45 countries and over 40 languages.

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The City of Mist: Stories
  • Ruiz Zafon, Carlos (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 176 Pages - 11/23/2021 (Publication Date) - Harper Perennial (Publisher)

2. Gabriel Garcia Marquez

Best Spanish authors: Gabriel Garcia Marquez
Gorup de Besanez, CC BY-SA 4.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Born in Columbia in 1927, Gabriel Garcia Marquez was one of the most significant Spanish language authors in the 20th century. He earned the Neustadt International Prize for Literature in 1972 and the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1982. He died in 2014 in Mexico City at the age of 87.

Marquez started his writing career as a journalist and non-fiction writer. He was widely known for One Hundred Years of Solitude; additional books include Love in the Time of Cholera and The Autumn of the Patriarch. They were excellent examples of magical realism in the world of Spanish authors.

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One Hundred Years of Solitude (Harper Perennial Modern Classics)
  • Gabriel Garcia Marquez (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 417 Pages - 02/21/2006 (Publication Date) - Harper Perennial Modern Classics (Publisher)

3. Isabel Allende

Best Spanish authors: Isabel Allende
Jroses, CC BY-SA 3.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Isabel Allende is a modern Spanish writer who sold over 75 million copies of her 25 books in 42 different languages. She was born in 1942 in Peru to Chilean parents and became an American citizen in 1993. Today, she resides in California near her family.

She is heavily involved in advocacy and earned the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Obama in 2014 for her philanthropy, including the Isabel Allende Foundation that supports the rights of women and children.

Allende’s work earned her the National Prize in Literature from Chile, and she also was inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Letters. She has many famous works, including Of Love and Shadows and A Long Petal of the Sea.

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A Long Petal of the Sea: A Novel
  • Allende, Isabel (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 368 Pages - 04/06/2021 (Publication Date) - Ballantine Books (Publisher)

4. Miguel de Cervantes

Best Spanish authors: Miguel de Cervantes
19th Century lithograph, unsigned., Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Often called the most excellent writer in the Spanish language, Miguel de Cervantes was born in Spain in 1547 and died in 1616 in Madrid. He was one of the world’s first novelists, yet he spent most of his life in poverty despite his long-lasting literary influence. Most of his surviving writing came out of his last three years of life.

De Cervantes is most famous for his novel Don Quixote, considered the first modern novel, but his first novel was La Galatea, which he published in 1585.

Don Quixote (Dover Thrift Editions: Classic Novels)
  • de Cervantes, Miguel (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 992 Pages - 03/21/2018 (Publication Date) - Dover Publications (Publisher)

5. Federico Garcia Lorca

Federico Garcia Lorca was a playwright and poet who lived in Grenada from 1898 to 1936. He attended Columbia University and the University of Granada. He was an outspoken socialist and sadly died via assassination by the Nationalist militia at 38.

Garcia Lorca was famous for his plays and poetry, with Gypsy Ballads being his most famous poetry book. His best-known plays are the Rural Trilogy and include Blood Wedding, Yerma, and The House of Bernarda Alba. In the late 1800s, Garcia Lorca’s work was under censorship, and that did not end until 1953.

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The Collected Poems: A Bilingual Edition (Revised)
  • García Lorca, Federico (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 1056 Pages - 08/01/2002 (Publication Date) - Farrar, Straus and Giroux (Publisher)

6. Jorge Luis Borges

Jorge Luis Borges was an Argentinian short-story writer, poet, translator, and essayist. The writer was born in Buenos Aires in 1899, and he settled in Switzerland, where he died in 1986. He was a prolific writer who had a hand in making Spanish-language literature mainstream.

Luis Borges is most famous for his books Ficciones and El Aleph, which he published in the 1940s. These are compilations of his short story collections. His works were particularly famous because they put the common language of Spanish people into mainstream literature.

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Ficciones
  • Jorge Luis Borges (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 174 Pages - 02/01/1994 (Publication Date) - Grove Press (Publisher)

7. Mario Vargas Llosa

Best Spanish authors: Mario Vargas Llosa
Hreinn Gudlaugsson, CC BY-SA 4.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Mario Vargas Llosa was born in 1936 to a middle-class family in Peru. He attended the National University of San Marcos and studied literature, and as a teenager, he wrote a play and worked for a local newspaper. His dedication to social change in his writing earned him the 2010 Nobel Prize in Literature and the Miguel de Cervantes Prize in 1994.

Vargas Llosa’s first work was a three-act play, The Escape of the Inca. He published his first novel, The Time of the Hero, in 1963. He also wrote humorous stories, children’s works, and darker tales.

The Time of the Hero
  • Llosa, Mario Vargas (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 416 Pages - 10/31/2004 (Publication Date) - Faber & Faber (Publisher)

8. Rosa Montero Gayo

Best Spanish authors: Rosa Montero Gayo
Partido Animalista – PACMA – from España, CC BY-SA 2.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Rosa Montero Gayo is a Spanish journalist and contemporary fiction writer born in 1951. She contracted tuberculosis and had to remain at home for several years as a child. This illness caused her to read and write, and she was able to study journalism in college before launching her writing career in journalism.

Montero Gayo published her first novel in 1979 called Chronicle of Enmity. She won the National Journalism prize in 1980. Today, she travels extensively and often receives visiting professor requests from major universities around the globe.

Historia del rey transparente / The Story of the Translucent King (Spanish Edition)
  • Montero, Rosa (Author)
  • Spanish (Publication Language)
  • 592 Pages - 02/23/2016 (Publication Date) - Debolsillo (Publisher)

9. Carlos Fuentes Macias

Carlos Fuentes Macias was a novelist and essayist born in Panama in 1928. As a child, he traveled throughout Latin America before claiming his Mexican citizenship in the 1930s. Before turning his attention to politics and writing, he attended the National Autonomous University of Mexico and studied law.

His first work was Where the Air Is Clear, and it pushed him to instant fame as a writer. He wrote numerous novels, short stories, essays, plays, and screenplays. He won several awards, including the Miguel de Cervantes Prize, and died in 2012 at the age of 83.

El régimen concesionario del petróleo venezolano: aspectos jurídicos, institucionales y políticos: Las fuentes del «tesoro» y el «tesoro» de las fuentes (Spanish Edition)
  • García Macías, Carlos Luis (Author)
  • Spanish (Publication Language)
  • 251 Pages - 06/04/2018 (Publication Date) - Carlos Luis GARCÍA MACÍAS (Publisher)

10. Javier Marias

One of the most celebrated writers in Spain, Javier Marias was born in 1951 in Madrid. He works as a novelist, translator, and columnist, with several awards to his name, including the Austrian State Prize for European Literature. He studied philosophy and literature at the Complutense University of Madrid and spent many years teaching.

Marias has several works with English translations, including his second novel, Voyage Along the Horizon, and his 1992 work A Heart So White. He wrote his first novel, The Dominions of the Wolf, at age 17.

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A Heart So White (Vintage International)
  • Marías, Javier (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 304 Pages - 03/26/2013 (Publication Date) - Vintage (Publisher)

11. Julia Alvarez

Julia Alvarez was born in New York City, but her parents returned to the Dominican Republic shortly after being born, so she grew up speaking Spanish. At the age of 10, she had to flee with her family to the United States because of her father’s work against the country’s dictator.

Alvarez has many novels to her name, but How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents and In the Time of the Butterflies are two of her most important. Her works examine the cultural expectations of women in both of the countries she lived in, and she is one of the most successful Latina writers in modern history. In 2002, she won the Hispanic Heritage Award in Literature.

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How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents
  • Alvarez, Julia (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 336 Pages - 01/12/2010 (Publication Date) - Algonquin Books (Publisher)

12. Laura Esquivel

Born in 1950 in Mexico City, Laura Esquivel is a Mexican novelist and screenwriter. She is a member of the Legislature of the Mexican Congress and spent her early professional life working as a teacher. Her work often covers the science fiction and magical realism genres.

In 1989, Esquivel released Like Water for Chocolate, and it became a nearly instant bestseller. It later became an award-winning film. She also wrote The Law of Love and Between the Fires.

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Like Water for Chocolate: A Novel in Monthly Installments with Recipes, Romances, and Home Remedies
  • Great product!
  • Esquivel, Laura (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 256 Pages - 10/01/1995 (Publication Date) - Anchor (Publisher)

13. Javier Sierra

Best Spanish authors: Javier Sierra
Capitanfabian, CC BY-SA 4.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Javier Seirra was born in 1971 in Teruel, Spain. His professional career started at just 12 years old when he hosted a radio program, and he launched the journal Ano Cero just six years later. As an adult, he became the first Spaniard to hit the Top Ten list in the United States.

Sierra writes on ancient mysteries. In 1995, he published Roswell: Secreto de Estado about the Roswell incident. His 2006 novel The Secret Supper hit the New York Times bestseller list and was published in 42 countries. The Lady in Blue is his most recent work to receive an English translation.

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The Secret Supper: A Novel
  • Sierra, Javier (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 368 Pages - 03/20/2007 (Publication Date) - Washington Square Press (Publisher)

14. Juan Gomez-Jurado

Spanish journalist and author Juan Gomez-Jurado were born in 1977 in Madrid. He is a columnist for two news stations in Spain and has books translated into 42 languages. Today, he is one of the most successful living Spanish authors. He is also an activist in the fight against colon cancer and an ambassador for Save the Children.

Gomez-Jurado won the Premio de Novela Ciudad de Torrevieja award for his novel The Traitor’s Emblem, which literary critics praised as a riveting thriller and love story. His first novel, God’s Spy, has been translated into multiple languages.

By Juan Gomez-Jurado:The Traitor's Emblem: A Novel [Hardcover]
  • aa (Author)
  • 11/28/1994 (Publication Date) - Atria Books (Publisher)

15. Camilo Jose Cela

Camilo Jose Cela was a Spanish writer born in 1916. He died in Madrid at 85 in 2002. In 1989, he won the Nobel Prize in Literature because he challenged people to consider the vulnerability of humanity.

Two of Jose Cela’s most famous works are The Family of Pascual Duarte and The Hive. The Hive had to be published in Buenos Aires because it was censored in Spain, which is interesting given that Jose Cela was working as a censor at its publication. He also wrote several poetry collections and short-story collections.

The Hive
  • Cela, Camilo José (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 296 Pages - 03/07/2023 (Publication Date) - NYRB Classics (Publisher)

16. Elvira Navarro Ponferrada

Best Spanish authors: Elvira Navarro Ponferrada
Picapicout, CC BY-SA 4.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Elvira Navarro Ponferrada was born in 1978 in Spain. She completed her philosophy degree at the Complutense University of Madrid and won the City Council of Madrid’s Young Creators Competition in 2004. In 2010, she was named one of the 22 best Spanish language novelists under 35 by Granta Magazine.

She is known for The City in Winter, The Happy City, and The Working Woman. Her fiction book The Last Days of Adelaida Garcia Morales comes from the real-life story of Morales. In addition to writing novels, Navarro Ponferrada writes for several Spanish magazines.

If you liked this post about authors from Spain, you might also enjoy our round-up of the best Thai authors of all time.

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A Working Woman
  • Navarro, Elvira (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 256 Pages - 10/10/2017 (Publication Date) - Two Lines Press (Publisher)

The Final Word On The Best Spanish Authors

These Spanish authors have a lot to offer from poetry, plays, and fiction.

Further Reading

If you liked learning about the best Spanish authors, check out the best British authors.

You might also be interested in reading about the best Japanese authors

FAQs About Spanish Authors

Who are some up-and-coming Spanish writers?

Keep an eye out for Andrea Abreu and Munir Hachemi. 

Who is the most widely read Spanish author?

It’s hard to say who is the most widely read Spanish author for sure, but Miguel de Cervantes is arguably the most famous.  

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