Travelers who want to know some of the recent unfortunate history of Guatemala should read:
"I, Rigoberta Menchu"
A Guatemalan Quiche woman tells a heartbreaking and powerful story of growing up and the struggle of her and her people with land thefts and repressive regimes, in which members of her family were killed. She is now a famous indigenous activist and won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1992.
Miguel Ángel Asturias won the Nobel Prize for literature in 1967. While he wrote many books, his most famous work is El Senor Presidente (Mr. President) and it is included in most college curriculum in Guatemala. Hombres de Maize (Men of Maize) is considered his masterpiece. While Mr. President is a biting political satire about life under a 20th century banana republic dictator, Men of Maize dabbles a bit in the fantastical realism found in A Thousand Years of Solitude. Both books are available in English translation.
Agusto Monterroso is a Guatemalan writer who specialized in humorous short stories and essays, easily accesible to non-Guatemalan readers.
Arturo Arias is a contemporary Guatemalan writer. His novel After the Bombs is a coming of age story in Guatemala City in the 1950s. He also wrote The Rigoberta Menchú Controversy, a book that examines the debate surrounding the veracity of "I, Rigoberta Menchu".
Stephen Schlesinger, Stephen Kinzer, John H. Coatsworth and Richard A. Nuccio, wrote about the impact of the United Fruit Company on the Guatemalan political history. A must read too understand Guatemala complex relation with the USA. Their new Revised and Expanded version of "Bitter Fruit"