The region used to be almost synonymous with magic realism but recent bestselling fiction draws on a legacy of dictatorship, poverty and sinister folklore

A young man follows the bloody trail of his CIA father, through Paraguayan torture chambers and the sites of Andean massacres. An Ecuadorian artist fantasizes about running a scalpel through the tongue of her mute twin. In a Buenos Aires cemetery, teenage fans devour a rock star’s rotting remains.

These grisly scenes – and many more like them – populate the pages of Latin America’s recent bestselling fiction. From the Andes to the Amazon and to the urban sprawl of some of the world’s biggest cities, a ghoulish shadow has been cast over Latin American literature.

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