Owing to the male-centric nature of most lists of Latin American writers, I thought I’d make one of just women. All of the authors here either have books available in English or soon-to-be available. Enjoy!
ps. I understand this list doesn’t include authors from a lot of Latin American countries. It’s challenging! Not that many are translated, and some of the ones that are aren’t authors I would necessarily recommend. If you think there’s someone I should look into, please let us all know in the comments.
Gabriela Mistral 
Chilean poet widely known for being the first female Latin American to receive the Nobel Prize in Literature (1945).
Dulce María Loynaz 
Major Cuban lyric poet who was largely forgotten after the rise of Castro. Rediscovered with the awarding of the Cervantes Prize in 1992. Archipelago will soon release a selected, Absolute Solitude.
Silvina Ocampo 
Argentine poet, short story writer, and novelist, known for being a part of Borges’s inner circle. NYRB Classics released a sizable volume of her stories, Thus Were Their Faces, and a volume of her poetry, Silvina Ocampo. There is much left to translate.
Clarice Lispector 
Central figure of Brazilian literature in the 20th century, and an author who has finally emerged as a major writer in English translation. Many find Hour of the Star her best.
Rosario Castellanos 
Major Mexican poet and novelist of the 20th century. The Book of Lamentations is considered a central work.
Hilda Hilst 
Major Brazilian novelist known for her fragmentary books dealing with insanity and the surreal. Start with Letters from a Seducer.
Elena Poniatowska 
Major Mexican author in multiple genres spanning novels, journalism, and creative nonfiction. I like Massacre in Mexico, among others.
Alejandra Pizarnik 
Quite possibly Argentina’s greatest poet. An intimate of Silvina Ocampo, as well as a friend of Cortázar and Octavio Paz in Paris. Several volumes of her poetry have been recently released, with The Stone of Madness the largest.
Luisa Valenzuela 
Major Argentine novelist and short story writer of the “post-Boom” generation. Dark, often transgressive and fragmentary fictions, particularly in response to the dictatorship of 1976-82. I liked He Who Searches.
Gioconda Belli 
Major Nicaraguan poet and novelist, highly active in the Sandinista struggle against the Somoza dictatorship. Her novel The Inhabited Woman is considered a groundbreaking work for the gender issues it raises.
Daisy Zamora 
Major Nicaraguan poet. Riverbed of Memory was published in English translation in 1992.
Giannina Braschi 
Carmen Boullosa 
Major postwar Mexican author with over 40 books in various genres. A handful of novels have been translated, as well as Narco History: How Mexico and the United States Jointly Created the Mexican Drug War, co-authored with her Pulitzer Prize-winning husband Mike Wallace.
Cristina Rivera Garza 
Prolific Mexican writer in multiple genres whose strange, hyrbid texts create a sense of their own reality. The only author to ever win the Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz Prize twice. No One Will See Me Cry was published in 2003.
Lina Meruane 
Established Chilean novelist with a dozen works in various genres, just beginning to emerge in English translation. Seeing Red is the first and has garnered strong praise.
Adriana Lisboa 
Mid-career Brazilian novelist whose Symphony in White received the 2003 Jose Saramago Prize.
Guadalupe Nettel 
Established Mexican novelist, short story writer, and essayist. The Body Where I was Born was the first novel of hers to be translated.
Angélica Freitas 
Major Brazilian poet whose Rilke Shake was published last year, marking her first collection translated into English.
Mariana Enriquez 
Emerging Argentine writer whole collection of gothic short stories, The Things We Lost in the Fire, was acquired by Portobello Books last year.
Pola Oloixarac 
Emerging Argentine novelist whose Las teorías salvajes is currently being translated into English.
Samanta Schweblin 
Contemporary Argentine author attracting a lot of attention for her first two works, Párajos in la boca and Distancía de rescate. Some stories are translated but no full book is yet available, although that situation will soon change.
Valeria Luiselli 
Emerging Mexican novelist with two novels and a volume of essays, all available in English translation. Start with Faces in the Crowd.
@StephenHenighan: I’d add Teresa de la Parra (Venezuela), just for *Ifigenia*. And Cristina Peri Rossi (Uruguay) & Liliana Heker (Argentina).
Jeremy Davies: Josefina Vicens! A thousand times Josefina Vicens.
Will Vanderhyden: I’d offer two personal favorites whose books are not yet available in English, but it’s only a matter of time: Mónica Ríos and Fernanda García Lao.
Also: Carolina Sanín.
Also: Claudia Salazar Jiménez.
Diamela Eltit is also excellent and has several books available in English translation.
Chris Clarke: One more that I’ve always had a soft spot for: Maria Luisa Bombal, from Chile. A few translated back in the 80s or so.
Emi Del Marx: I would like to add three major poets. From New Spain: Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz (1651-1695). From Uruguay: Juana de Ibarbourou (1892-1979). And from Mexico: Coral Bracho (1951).
@bythefirelight: I think Elena Garro. The story La culpa es de los tlaxcaltecas is a classic
Edmundo Paz Soldán: Emma Reyes