CAROLINA DE ROBERTIS, a writer of Uruguayan origins, is the author of the novels The Gods of Tango, Perla, and the international bestseller The Invisible Mountain, as well as editor of the anthology Radical Hope: Letters of Love and Dissent in Dangerous Times. Her books have been translated into seventeen languages, and have been named Best Books of the Year in venues including the San Francisco Chronicle, O, The Oprah Magazine, BookList, and NBC. She is the recipient of a Stonewall Book Award, Italy’s Rhegium Julii Prize, and a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts, among other honors. She is also an award-winning translator of Latin American literature. She teaches creative writing at San Francisco State University, and lives in Oakland, California with her wife and two children.

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Carolina De Robertis - CANTORAS.jpg


Knopf - September 3, 2019

From the highly acclaimed, award-winning author of The Gods of Tango, a revolutionary new novel about five wildly different women who, in the midst of the Uruguayan dictatorship, find one another as lovers, friends, and ultimately, family.

In 1977 Uruguay, a military government has crushed political dissent with ruthless force. In an environment where citizens are kidnapped, raped, and tortured, homosexuality is a dangerous transgression. And yet Romina, Flaca, Anita "La Venus," Paz, and Malena—five cantoras, women who "sing"—somehow, miraculously, find on another and then, together, discover an isolated, nearly uninhabited cape, Cabo Polonio, which they claim as their secret sanctuary. Over the next thirty-five years, their lives move back and forth between Cabo Polonio and Montevideo, the city they call home, as they return, sometimes together, sometimes in pairs, with lovers in tow, or alone. And throughout, again and again, the women will be tested—by their families, lovers, society, and one another—as they fight to live authentic lives. 

A genre-defining novel and De Robertis's masterpiece, Cantoras is a breathtaking portrait of queer love, community, forgotten history, and the strength of the human spirit. At once timeless and groundbreaking, Cantoras is a tale about the fire in all our souls and those who make it burn.

praise for cantoras

One of The Millions’ Most Anticipated Books for the Second Half of 2019

“A lyrical, richly sensory novel about a group of renegade cantoras—slang for queer women—who claim a beach refuge during the worst years of the dictatorship in Uruguay, and beyond. Together they steal time from oppression of all kinds, unspooling the infinity of themselves. Pointedly relevant to our own dangerous age, Carolina De Robertis has gifted us a majestic work of song and imagination, a handbook to survival for us all.”—Cristina García, author of Here in Berlin
Cantoras is a wise, brilliantly compassionate, wide-ranging novel about women in Uruguay, and about the power and realities of love. Carolina De Robertis is a force: prepare to be astonished.”—R. O. Kwon, author of The Incendiaries
“I loved Cantoras. I rooted for these remarkable women during every step of their journey and found myself weeping in gratitude and happiness in the final pages.”—Lisa See, author of The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane
“It felt like a blessing to read Carolina De Robertis’s new novel, Cantoras. In this toxic era, her voice is what we need to bring us back to wholeness. Aside from that, it’s a damn good read! A gift.”—Luis Alberto Urrea, author of The House of Broken Angels
“A powerful paean to freedom. Cantoras is a work of great beauty—it pulses and glows and gathers its words like poetry. Most of all, it leaves the reader longing for a world in which to be oneself is no risk and requires no special courage.”—Karen Joy Fowler, author of the Booker finalist We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves
“Tender, subversive, astonishing, so moving and thrilling. I’m so beguiled and stirred by this novel. It tells a story, about women in a grim time, that one feels couldn’t have been told before, until Carolina De Robertis came along. But it delivers the rich satisfactions of a nineteenth-century political novel, as if Virginia Woolf had been inspired or infuriated by The Secret Agent, and let loose.”—Francisco Goldman, author of Say Her Name
“Carolina’s writing, as always, blew me away. Cantoras is a stunning lullaby to revolution—and each woman in this novel sings it with a deep ferocity. Again and again, I was lifted, then gently set down again—either through tears, rage, or laughter. Days later, I am still inside this song of a story.”—Jacqueline Woodson, National Book Award–winning author

“Rich and luscious, De Robertis’ writing feels like a living thing, lapping over the reader like the ocean. Carefully crafted and expertly observed, each sentence is an elegant gift… A stunning novel about queer love, womanhood, and personal and political revolution.”Kirkus

“De Robertis does a fine job of probing the harsh realities of what it takes to carve out a life of freedom under an oppressive government.”Publishers Weekly



Letters of Love and Dissent in Dangerous Times

Vintage - May 2, 2017

Radical Hope is a collection of letters—to ancestors, to children five generations from now, to strangers in grocery lines, to any and all who feel weary and discouraged—written by award-winning novelists, poets, political thinkers, and activists. Provocative and inspiring, Radical Hope offers readers a kaleidoscopic view of the love and courage needed to navigate this time of upheaval, uncertainty, and fear, in view of the recent US presidential election.

Including letters by Junot Díaz, Alicia Garza, Roxana Robinson, Lisa See, Jewelle Gomez, Hari Kunzru, Faith Adiele, Parnaz Foroutan, Chip Livingston, Mohja Kahf, Achy Obejas, Viet Thanh Nguyen, Cherríe Moraga, Kate Schatz, Boris Fishman, Karen Joy Fowler, Elmaz Abinader, Aya de León, Jane Smiley, Luis Alberto Urrea, Mona Eltahawy, Jeff Chang, Claire Messud, Meredith Russo, Reyna Grande, Katie Kitamura, iO Tillett Wright, Francisco Goldman, Celeste Ng, Peter Orner, and Cristina García.



“This anthology is like the book version of a Justice League of superheroes: a collection of writers to guide us through tumultuous political times. They share our fear, our frustration, our concerns, and our rage way more eloquently than your second cousin can do on Facebook.“—Vulture

Read the full article here.

“De Robertis’s contributors, who include Jeff Chang, Junot Díaz, Claire Messud, and Celeste Ng, replied to her call with diverse, eloquent, and unapologetic pieces that speak to the heart and underline the sentiment that the personal is political. They contexualize the changes in today’s society by looking backward to famous ancestors and forward to grandchildren. The letters are addressed to the authors’ peers, the protesters at Standing Rock Indian Reservation, strangers in the grocery store, feminists met once on a Cairo sidewalk, and, perhaps most movingly, the beloved children who will inherit the results of adults’ choices. The overall message is one of radical connection and thoughtful activism. This collection is a plea to defy the idea that positive change is impossible.”—Publishers Weekly




Knopf – July 7, 2015

From one of the leading lights of contemporary Latin American literature—a lush, lyrical, deeply moving story of a young woman whose passion for the early sounds of tango becomes a force of profound and unexpected change.

February 1913: seventeen-year-old Leda, carrying only a small trunk and her father’s cherished violin, leaves her Italian village for a new home, and a new husband, in Argentina. Arriving in Buenos Aires, she discovers that he has been killed, but she remains: living in a tenement, without friends or family, on the brink of destitution. Still, she is seduced by the music that underscores life in the city: tango, born from lower-class immigrant voices, now the illicit, scandalous dance of brothels and cabarets. Leda eventually acts on a long-held desire to master the violin, knowing that she can never play in public as a woman. She cuts off her hair, binds her breasts, and becomes “Dante,” a young man who joins a troupe of tango musicians bent on conquering the salons of high society. Now, gradually, the lines between Leda and Dante begin to blur, and feelings that she has long kept suppressed reveal themselves, jeopardizing not only her musical career, but her life.

Richly evocative of place and time, its prose suffused with the rhythms of the tango, its narrative at once resonant and gripping, this is De Robertis’s most accomplished novel yet.



Winner of the 2016 Stonewall Book Awards – Barbara Gittings Literature Award
NBC News Best Latina Book of 2015
Amazon Best Book of the Month (July 2015)

“This beautifully realized work is as evocative and textured as the tango itself.”—Library Journal (Starred Review)

The Gods of Tango opens up the imagination. . . . Woven of many strands, the novel is absorbing, tightly crafted, and ultimately quite moving. . . De Robertis’s passages hum in step with the tempos of the tango, seducing the reader to continue turning the pages [with] luminous prose. . . . Bold and mesmerizing.”—Sara Campos, The Los Angeles Review of Books

“You think you’re reading one novel but, then, suddenly you realize you’re reading another. This is the dazzling transformation that slowly comes upon you reading Carolina De Robertis’s rapturous novel, The Gods of Tango. And then you stop and take a breath and ask yourself, ‘Isn’t this what fiction is supposed to do?’ Catch us off guard, surprise us, and convince us the art of the possible. And you have to say, ‘Well, yes—of course this is what De Robertis has been doing all along.’”—Charles R. Larson, Counterpunch

“Confident, sensual, wildly romantic.”—Margaret Quamme, The Columbus Dispatch

“Hypnotic. . . De Robertis’ passionate prose captures the rhythms of the tango, ensnaring us in its twists and twirls.”—Moira Macdonald, The Seattle Times

“Joyous and affirming.”—Sandra Lambert, Lambda Literary

“A rousing tale of sex, violence, exhilaration, poverty, luck, and redemption. . . . De Robertis is as ambitious and audacious as her beguiling protagonist.”—Valerie Miner, San Francisco Chronicle

“Sensuous, thoughtful, and beautifully rendered.”—Terence Clark, The Huffington Post

“Ambitious. . . De Robertis masterfully navigates the sensuous world of Buenos Aires’ rich musical heritage, and writes bravely and compassionately.”—

“Makes for a poetic read, with De Robertis penning effortlessly lyrical sentences. The novel is true to its time and manages to be engrossing and believable. . . Beautifully written.”—Publishers Weekly

“A plea to embrace ‘the bright jagged thing you really are,’ and De Robertis captures the enormity of that struggle.”—Kirkus Reviews

“There is something inherently alluring about the tango. . . [The Gods of Tango] captures that allure in a rich feast of history and human drama. . . Leda/Dante’s strength of character finds a perfect home in De Robertis’ strong narrative.”—Brad Hooper, Booklist (starred review)

“A sensuous and beautiful book, in which one woman’s consuming passion for tango challenges convention, and shapes her identity. The Buenos Aires of the early 1900s is a vivid, dangerous place, and Carolina De Robertis takes us on an epic journey into its heart, and into the lives of the immigrants responsible for the birth of tango.”—Saskia Sarginson, author of Without You and The Other Me

“Cross-dressing Leda is an indelible character, and De Robertis does a fine job of conjuring the dangerous musical demimonde of early 20th-century Buenos Aires.”—San Jose Mercury News

“Carolina De Robertis delivers her most accomplished novel yet in The Gods of Tango.”—About Town Magazine




Knopf – March 27, 2012

A coming-of-age story, based on a recent shocking chapter of Argentine history, about a young woman who makes a devastating discovery about her origins with the help of an enigmatic houseguest.

Perla Correa grew up a privileged only child in Buenos Aires, with a cold, polished mother and a straitlaced naval officer father, whose profession she learned early on not to disclose in a country still reeling from the abuses perpetrated by the deposed military dictatorship. Perla understands that her parents were on the wrong side of the conflict, but her love for her papá is unconditional. But when Perla is startled by an uninvited visitor, she begins a journey that will force her to confront the unease she has suppressed all her life, and to make a wrenching decision about who she is, and who she will become.


Praise for Carolina De Robertis and PERLA

“Mesmerizing…a moving, poetic novel.”—O, The Oprah Magazine

“Beautiful…Wrenching…De Robertis is an extraordinarily courageous writer who only gets better with every book.”—Junot Díaz, Latina Magazine

“This ambitious narrative…is propulsive and emotionally gripping…culminating in a wrenching catharsis about rebirth and healing.”—Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“Lyrically combining into reality both the fantastic and the horrific, De Robertis weaves a beautiful tale about birth, rebirth, and the responsibility of inheritance from complex, startling history.”—Booklist (starred review)

“De Robertis skillfully weaves a lyrical voice around her characters that treats victims, perpetrators, and bystanders with the same care and honesty. The result [is] powerfully humanizing…highly recommended for all fiction enthusiasts.”—Library Journal (starred review)

“[Perla] is remarkably convincing…De Robertis is clearly attuned to the aftereffects of the dictatorship on contemporary Argentina. An elegantly written and affecting meditation on life in the wake of atrocity.”—Kirkus Reviews

“A riveting novel.”—New York Daily News

“It seems that Carolina De Robertis is a new voice for Latin America, following in the footsteps of Isabel Allende, and dare I say it, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, among others.”—Washington Independent Review of Books

“Haunting…A sensitive exploration of love, loyalty, and hope in the wake of atrocity.“—The New Yorker

“De Robertis brings the best of two cultures to bear in her work, melding the Latin literary tradition of magical realism with a thoroughly modern, politically charged North American sensibility…[Her]extraordinary gift makes this brave, important book an object of beauty.”—Chicago Tribune

“De Robertis holds the reader’s attention with her entrancingly rhythmic and pulsating prose… [Her] voice is distinctive and her novel vivid and memorable“—The Wall Street Journal

“De Robertis’ lyrical prose allows readers to lose themselves in the often dreamy-despite-itself world the author creates.“—East Bay Express




Alfred A. Knopf – August 25, 2009

A gripping and lyrical story—at once expansive and lush with detail—this debut novel is a deeply intimate exploration of the search for love and authenticity, power and redemption, in the lives of three women, and a penetrating portrait of a small, tenacious nation, Uruguay, shaken in the gales of the twentieth century.

On the first day of the millennium, a small town gathers to witness a miracle and unravel its portents for the century: the mysterious reappearance of a lost infant, Pajarita. Later, as a young woman in the capital city—Montevideo, brimming with growth and promise—Pajarita begins a lineage of fiercely independent women. Her daughter, Eva, survives a brutal childhood to pursue her dreams as a rebellious poet and along the hazardous precipices of erotic love. Salomé, awakening to both her sensuality and political convictions amidst the violent turmoil of the late 1960s, finds herself dangerously attracted to a cadre of urban guerilla rebels, despite the terrible consequences toward which such principled fearlessness can lead. But what saves them all is the fierce fortifying connection between mother and daughter that will bring them together to face the future.

From Perón’s glittering Buenos Aires to the rustic hills of Rio de Janeiro, from the haven of a corner butchershop in Montevideo to U.S. embassy halls, the Firielli family traverses a changing South America and the uncharted terrain of their relationships with one another.


Read “A Conversation with Carolina De Robertis” on Knopf’s website

AUDIO: An Interview with Carolina De Robertis



Top 10 Reads of 2009 by O, The Oprah Magazine
Top 10 First Novels of 2009 by Booklist
Top 100 Books of 2009 by The San Francisco Chronicle
#1 New Latino Author to Watch in 2010 by

“Carolina De Robertis is a writer of uncanny wisdom and an alchemist of words. With The Invisible Mountain, she has introduced us to an unfamiliar landscape of harsh contradictions and of the heavy burden history often plays in the shaping and altering of lives on the brink of change. The Invisible Mountain introduces a gifted literary voice mapping the uncharted territories of the Americas in a fearless new way.”—Alex Espinoza, author of Still Water Saints

“With this marvelous novel, Carolina De Robertis brings to vivid life the history and culture of Uruguay, a country too-long neglected in the consciousness of the Americas. Bold, passionate, and filled with songs both ecstatic and tragic, De Robertis tells the stories of three generations of women whose lives transcend the ordinary.”—Cristina García, author of Dreaming in Cuban

“A lyrical, haunting story about three generations of an extraordinary family, and an evocative tribute to the endurance of women and the spirit of poetry.”—Diana Gabaldon, author of The Outlander series

“With grace, fluidity and a modicum of magic, an extraordinary and passionate family navigates the social and political landscapes of South America. The Invisible Mountain is a wonderful story; and De Robertis is a writer to watch.”—Matthew Aaron Goodman, author of Hold Love Strong

“This visionary book beautifully, bravely breaks open all the old secrets.”—Elle

“De Robertis is a skilled storyteller, but it is her use of language—from the precision of poetry to the sensuality of sex—that makes this literary debut so exceptional.” —Booklist, starred review

“This debut about three generations of strong women in late 20th-century Uruguay is the brainiest dynastic novel in years. A high-end, Euro Danielle Steel story full of sex, politics and family—with just a little bit of magical realism to give literary heft to the whole delightful concoction.”—The Daily Beast, 13 Hottest Summer Reads

“Miracles, poetry and guerilla fighters march through the 20th century in De Robertis’ winning debut, a beautifully wrought novel of Uruguay.“—Kirkus Reviews

“It has many similarities to A Thousand Splendid Suns, but I found The Invisible Mountain to be the better written of the two.“—Farm Lane Books Blog

“De Robertis has created a vivid new landscape, both internal and external…“—The Philadelphia Inquirer

“This novel is beautifully written yet deliberate in its storytelling…An extraordinary first effort whose epic scope and deft handling reverberate with the deep pull of ancestry, the powerful influence of one’s country and the sacrifices of reinvention.“—Publishers Weekly, Starred Review

The Invisible Mountain winds up being the kind of novel you stay up late to finish and lie awake thinking about. It is breathless, full of tenderness; despite its grim political realities, a faint, fairy-tale quality lights it…But the novel’s triumph—brought to a high polish in an unforgettable final scene—is its ensemble of women and men, bent on living every moment as if on fire, answering the great question of life (how, then, to live?) as passionately, with as much teeth-rattling urgency, as they humanly can.“—San Francisco Chronicle

The Invisible Mountain is a poetic and absorbing generational epic that pays tribute to a colorful culture and amazing history. De Robertis is a promising young writer, and we can only hope there is much more to come from her.“—BookPage

“Impressive and exotic…This is an epic with enough going on upstairs to ensure it is both entertaining and satisfying.“—Otago Daily Times (New Zealand)

“[De Robertis’s] writing is strong and assured, particularly for a debut novel, and her powers of describing Uruguay, an oft-overlooked country in the Western hemisphere, bring that tiny country to vibrant life.“—The Onion

The Invisible Mountain has the body of an epic and the soul of a sassy, sexy storyteller.“—Paste Magazine

The Invisible Mountain does what the best, most readable novels do: It tells a compelling human story about identity while also quietly evoking a place and time.“—O Magazine, “10 Terrific Reads of 2009”

“This is a richly textured and nuanced work of women, survival, the families we are born into, and those we choose to inhabit. Translator, short fiction writer, and first-time novelist De Robertis draws on family fact and legend to bring Montevideo and its stories to life with rewarding effect.“—Library Journal

“Carolina De Robertis’s first novel is an intimate history of one family in Uruguay…a love letter to a country and a people.“—ColorLines

“Fantastic saga. This book has everything, love, passion, violence, drama, magic, a beautiful poetic language and striking literary pictures.“—Verdens Gang (VG), Norway

Jessica SpiveyD