10 Remarkable Novels Set in South America

A South American scene from a book
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The recent bicentennial celebration of Ecuadorian independence inspired us to sail off on a scintillating bookish adventure to one of the most diverse continents on the planet. Set in South America, our selection of books will offer any armchair explorer a chance to climb snow-capped mountains, roam the Amazon rainforest, retrace the steps of the ancient Inca civilisation and witness human drama unfolding against a stunning tropical backdrop.

The Inheritance of Orquídea Divina by Zoraida Cordova

Image Credit: Atria Books

“Zoraida Cordova’s fantastically wondrous, dream-like, and imaginative novel follows in the footsteps of the South American magical realism tradition, set in Ecuador and the U.S. The Montoya family have been summoned to receive their inheritance, to the deathbed of their matriarch, Orquidea, who has not left the protected home at Four Rivers in Ecuador for some time for any reason. However, their curiosity about the family secrets are to be left unsatisfied as a transformed Orquidea departs this life in a manner that surprises. 

Years later the descendents lives have changed in different ways, thanks to Orquida, using her talents to bestow surprising benefits. However, there is trouble brewing, the family line is facing dangers and threats, that have the descendants having to overcome their issues, Miramer and Rey with their close connections and Rhiannon travelling back to Ecuador to save the family, to get to the truth- the protective magic and the secrets.”- Paromjit

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Into The Jungle by Erica Ferencik

IMage Credit: Simon & Schuster

Having spent most of her life in foster care, Lily Bushwold is ready for a fresh start. With nothing to lose but the shackles of her past, she chases the promise of a brighter future all the way to Bolivia. Soon the world comes crushing down around Lily, as she learns that her job offer has been withdrawn. With no means and no real opportunities, the young woman is left with no option but to fend for herself on the bustling streets of Cochabamba. One night in a bar, she feels that her luck is about to change, when she meets a dashing young Amazonian. Head over heels in love, she joins Omar on a perilous venture into the heart of a rainforest, where the close encounters of a slithering, crawling and stinging kind might be the least of her worries. Fraught with secrets and terror, the jungle puts her relationship, sanity and survival skills to the test. 

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End of The Spear by Steve Saint

Image Credit; Tyndale House Publishers

“This is an absolutely amazing story of the transformation of a tribe steeped in violent traditions. Five American missionaries gave their lives in hopes of reaching the Waodani tribes and seemingly failed when they were brutally killed. However, family members of the five men were called to continue what the men had started and eventually reached this lost group in the middle of a remote jungle in Ecuador. What happened ten years later when the son of one of the five returned to the tribe whose members killed his father? Read the book and be blessed.”- K. Adams

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One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

IMage Credit: Penguin Publishing

Nestled between the emerald mountains of Columbia, lies the mythical town of Macondo, which harbours the dark secrets and incestuous relationships. Built upon the hopes and dreams of tormented exiles, the city of mirages witnesses the curse of the Buendia family, whose fragile existence is slowly corrupted by technological advances, exploitation and isolation, leading them to their tragic end. Whimsical and thought-provoking, this multi-generational saga skilfully interweaves lyrical magic with harsh reality into one heady brew of decadence, passion and oblivion.

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The Gold Eaters by Ronald Wright

IMage Credit: Riverhead Books

For Rachael Vinrace, a shy young woman in her early twenties, a vacation to South America turns into a life-changing experience. Through encounters with other passengers on the ship, the young lady explores new horizons searching for her own place in the world. The author skilfully blends the comedy of manners with an emotional turbulence of the main character — love, longing, heartbreak and despair accompany Rachael on her sea voyage. The novel remains as fresh and relevant today as a century ago. 

An excellent choice for female readers on their road of self-discovery.

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The Voyage Out by Virginia Woolf

IMage Credit: Penguin Books

For Rachael Vinrace, a shy young woman in her early twenties, a vacation to South America turns into a life-changing experience. Through encounters with other passengers on the ship, the young lady explores new horizons searching for her own place in the world. The author skilfully blends the comedy of manners with an emotional turbulence of the main character — love, longing, heartbreak and despair accompany Rachael on her sea voyage. The novel remains as fresh and relevant today as a century ago. 

An excellent choice for female readers on their road of self-discovery.

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Galapagos by Kurt Vonnegut Jr.

IMage Credit: Dial Press

Galápagos takes the reader back one million years, to A.D. 1986. A simple vacation cruise suddenly becomes an evolutionary journey. Thanks to an apocalypse, a small group of survivors stranded on the Galápagos Islands are about to become the progenitors of a brave, new, and totally different human race. In this inimitable novel, America’s master satirist looks at our world and shows us all that is sadly, madly awry—and all that is worth saving.

City on The Ledge by Philip Karaske

IMage Credit: Encompass Editions

Quito, Ecuador. In this obscure Andean capital, ladled along the ledge of a volcano, an eruption is taking place. After centuries of oppression, the workers are on strike against their banana plantation masters. If Ecuador, the largest banana exporter in the world and the bargain basement of the industry, raises its prices, so will the others. Remarkably, Jay Streets, American pro-football star, is called on to arbitrate and set a final wage for the workers. Having no interest in the matter, he is expected to be impartial The U.S. government, however, with U.S. consumers in mind, would rather that Streets be partial.It has ordered the embassy’s CIA chief to ensure it. Set against the emerald majesty of the Andes, City on the Ledge witnesses the machinations of politicians, spies, diplomats and lovers as they strive to pull off a revolution – or kill it before it can bloom.

Through The Brazilian Wilderness by Theodore Roosevelt

IMage Credit; The Floating Press

“Roosevelt, along with his son, Kermit, and several naturalists from the American Museum of Natural History joined Colonel Cândido Rondon, a Brazilian explorer on his scientific expedition to discover the source of a previously unknown river. The trip fulfilled two purposes. The naturalists collected specimens for the museum. The other purpose was for Rondon and company to travel up the unexplored river and chart it on a map for the first time. Roosevelt wrote:

We did not know whether we had one hundred or eight hundred kilometers to go, whether, the stream would be fairly smooth or whether we would encounter waterfalls, or rapids, or even some big marsh or lake. We could not tell whether or not we would meet hostile Indians, although no one of us ever went ten yards from camp without his rifle. We had no idea how much time the trip would take. We had entered a land of unknown possibilities.

Despite a slow start, the action picks up as canoes are lost, a man is killed, Kermit almost drowns, and Teddy becomes ill with a life-threatening fever. All in all, a very interesting read.”- Brazil Girl

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Do Not Become Alarmed by Maile Meloy

Image credit: Riverhead Books

Haunting and terrifying, Do Not Become Alarmed embodies every parent’s worst nightmare played out painstakingly in gruesome details. For Liv and Nora, a dream vacation touring South America turns into a once-in-a-lifetime experience for all the wrong reasons. Misfortune comes knocking on their door, when during an off ship day trip, two families venture off the beaten track, loosing sight of their six children. Consumed by the ultimate feelings of guilt, the parents battle their inner demons while their missing children draw on their inner strength they never knew they had. Heart-pounding and palm-sweating, this suspenseful page-turner will keep you guessing to the very end.

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