A native of Mexico City, Raúl Carrillo Arciniega has always found comfort and purpose in the written word – no matter the language. The associate professor of Latin American literature has authored multiple Spanish-language novels and books of poetry, including Hotel Francés, winner of the prestigious Ignacio Manuel Altamirano International Narrative Award.

“Literature for me is a constant source of knowledge about the inner world. The outer world is there, but the inner world is the one that rescues us from the meaninglessness of life,” he says. “That is why literature, in any language, is the vehicle to try to discern what we have inside and give a sense of direction to everything we do.” 

Here is Arciniega’s top 10 list (plus one bonus pick) of novels, poetry and short stories, in no particular order.

The Invention of Solitude
Paul Auster

Philip Roth

Roberto Bolaño

Julio Cortázar

Life is Elsewhere
Milan Kundera

Un mundo para Julius
Alfredo Bryce Echenique

Jorge Luis Borges

La estación violenta
Octavio Paz

Muerte sin fin
José Gorostiza

The Waste Land
T.S. Eliot

Asphodel, That Greeny Flower
William Carlos Williams