Have you ever dreamt of visiting Argentina? Perhaps interested in an insider’s perspective to this fascinating country? Have you ever pondered about why Evita and Che are either fanatically loved or hated?
Or perhaps you are look for inspiration for an upcoming trip to Argentina? Any which way, this Armchair Traveller’s Guide to Argentina is the ideally place to start exploring the country from the comfort of home.
Books and movies can paint a history like no other. They give you an understanding of a countries like Argentina’s colourful past, its challenges and dictatorships, its culture and why it is the way it is today.
The best books about, or written by Argentine’s:
You might not have heard about many Argentine writers, the country and it’s dark past have produced some of the best in the world. One of the most renowned and one worth reading is Jorge Luis Borges. He writes like none other.
From The Aleph and Other Stories (Penguin Classics) to his collected library of short stories and poetry. His work is simply mesmerising, and he is one of the most under appreciated yet spectacular writers and thinkers of his time.
His thoughts, mind and work have a multitude of layers that are both enticing and profound. Every time you read one of his stories you’ll see new dimensions, ideas and provocative metaphysical concepts. His poetry on suburban streets of Buenos Aires where he lived, adds a richness to the city that assure you’ll never see them in the same light again.
If you’ve seen the magic weaved by the tango or the eloquence in a game of polo; it is this same grace, flow and passion that Jorge Borges brings to his writing. A fascinating writer that will share Argentina and all its charm with you like no other.
The Tango Singer
Tomas Eloy Martinez
If you are looking for a book that captures and brings to life the rawness of energy that is Buenos Aires, this is it. You can almost feel the energy emanating off the pages and through the dance and music of the tango. The heaviness that borders on a dramatic, always serious yet spellbinding dance between two dancers. This book, will leave you a little breathless for the city, the tango, for the music, and for life. At the end you won’t believe it was all fiction, it feels so real, as though you had lived it. It’s not. It is just a exceptional well told story, yet it is so captivating you can’t help but wish it to real, and that the book would last forever. It’s the perfect read whether you love the tango, exceptional stories or Argentina. Buy the book or find out more about it on Amazon: The Tango Singer
Tomas Eloy Martinez
This is fiction rather than being a biographical account about the life of Evita Peron, and written by an Argentine living abroad. This may grant him a little more creative license than if he were living in Argentina. It doesn’t stop this book from being both a compelling read. There are a lot of books written about Evita, and like Che, you either like her or you don’t. The reality is that there is not much information available as Evita Perez. Evita, herself either omitted it or changed it, to suit the picture she wanted to present to the world. So most books on the subject are heavily biased opinions of the writers perspective. This book and period in history shaped much of modern Argentina – as did the story of Evita, which is why it’s highly recommended. It’s a hard book to find, I suggest looking it up on Abe books: Santa Evita
Che Guevara: A Revolutionary Life
John Lee Anderson
Che is either loved or loathed, and you’ll get a very different point of view on why depending on who you ask. It’s best to read up and learn as much as you can before defending or jumping into arguments on this touchy subject. This biography is one of the best and unbiased on the market. It is also the largest, and most in-depth, so best read from the comfort of home rather than carrying it around in your backpack.
There are points of this time period that were new to me, and rarely mentioned in our history books. Despite some of the atrocities committed in his name, Che fought for his beliefs, took action where others dare not, he gave his life fully to the end for a higher ideal. He saw and understood first hand what the American placed dictators were doing to Latin America, and took steps to create change where he was able.
A poetic hero, fighting for justice in a rather unjust and corrupt world. For anyone who wants to get to know the man behind the story. You can find out more: Che: A revolutionary life
For those interested in more information on Latin American History, and how that history formed revolutionaries like Che Guevara. The best book is: Open Veins of Latin America. It is a real eye-opener as to the use and abuse of the resources and people in Latin America, long after the Spanish conquest.
Further Famous books already well noted, and written about that are also worth a mention on this reading list are:
- Motorcycle Diaries: This covers the years of Che’s early adulthood and much of the text was based on his diaries that he wrote while travelling through South America on his Motorcycle. This has since also been turned into a film, it is available on Prime or DVD.
- In Patagonia: Bruce Chatwin’s is one of the best travel writers in the world. This book in without a doubt one of the most well quoted and famous book on and about his travels through Patagonia.
Experience Argentina through Film
Not all good writers in Argentina are novelists, some are brilliant film makers. A few films like the Nine Queens have been copied, but the English version just isn’t the same.
The history and humour of the Argentines goes deep, and there are some idiosyncrasies that you get about the culture that you just wont’ get elsewhere.
Here are a few of my favourite films.
The Nine Queens: The story on and about a bank robbery, it’s the most famous Argentine film. It’s on the humourous side, but also is just a cracking story about a some would be slick robbers and the many failures they make.
Igualita de Mi: A favourite comedy, about someone who believes himself to be a bit of ladies man. You’ll meet a few of these characters if you do ever go to Argentina, the would be smooth talkers. This movies put them in the funniest light and it a perfect romantic story with a lot of unexpected twists.
A boyfriend for my wife: Another great romantic comedy with a few of Argentina’s best actors. The Argentine’s have a way of bringing a story that you’ll never find in a Hollywood movie – which is what makes them so incredibly funny.
The Official Story, looks into once of the sadder aspects of the adoptions of children of ‘the disappeared one’s’ by wealthier or military families at the time of Argentina’s dictatorship in the 1970s. This is the story of a mother of one such adoptee who tries to look into the Official story of what was going on at the time. While it was a shocking period in Argentina’s history, these adoptions and the disappeared one’s was real.
The son of the Bride: A look at how crazy that family and life can get Argentine style.
Did you know Argentinian’s love to Read?
Argentine’s love to read and will be happy to discuss a wide range of books they’ve read. The upside of this also means that you’ll find bookshops all over the country. One of my favourite bookshops in Buenos Aires is the El Ateneo Grand Splendid Bookstore. In it’s previous life it was an old theatre that has been transformed into one of the most stunning bookshops. Its the perfect way to spend an afternoon.
If you to make it to Argentina and are looking for English books, you’ll find them at Walrus Books, San Telmo in Buenos Aires. They have an excellent selection of new and second-hand books.
So, whether you are planning or dreaming about Argentina, it is worth reading up on its literature. Take the opportunity to see the city of Buenos Aires through the eyes of Borges.
The tales in these books are so well weaved that you will see the city and country in ways you had not believed possible in such a short time. You will feel as though you’ve walked the streets. Had the tango dance a beat on your heart and a touch of revolutionary spirit will stir your soul.
Books and movies can unlock a richer experience of a country, a view behind the veil,this list on and about Argentina will the key.
Of course if you’d like to visit, be sure to check out why November is the best time to visit Argentina. If you are are considering moving there, here’s a The reality of Living and Moving to Argentina.
Or if you just want to escape some more from the comfort of home, I also have a Armchair Travellers Guide to England.