20 best genre fiction writers from other countries to expand your horizons

18 of 21

4. Jorge Luis Borges

You really can’t talk about Spanish language literature without mentioning Jorge Luis Borges. This Argentinian writer is one of the biggest names in fantasy and philosophy, thanks to his strange, dreamy short stories. Borges was also a prolific essayist, poet and translator, not to mention an unusual figure in his own personal and professional lives.

Like many other authors, it’s difficult and unfair to pin Borges to any one genre. He certainly wrote in a literary style that has pleased high-minded critics and readers for many years. Yet there is also a strong element of strangeness and unreality in his work that appeals just as much to an English professor as it does to some with their nose in a Neil Gaiman or Stephen King book.

Unlike some of the other authors on this list, though, Borges’ reputation reached international acclaim in the 1960s. That’s when he started winning major literary prizes, including the very first Prix Formentor and, in 1971, the Jerusalem Prize. It also helped that Borges was able to speak and write in many different languages, even though he became totally blind at age 55 and never learned Braille.

So, where to start with Borges? Your best bet is one of his short story collections, like Labyrinths: Selected Stories and Other Writings. That volume contains one of his most famous tales, “The Library of Babel,” in which the narrator describes a huge library that contains a vast, seemingly uncountable number of books. Because the majority of these books contain nothing but apparent gibberish, the librarians descend into despair and cult-like behavior. Some speak of a mystical index that will explain all, while others wait for the “Man of the Book” to appear in their midst.