Books

Human Sacrifices review: As brutal as the name implies

Human Sacrifices is a collection of graphic, challenging short stories that are consistently nightmareish

Human Sacrifices cover

It should come as no surprise to those familiar with María Fernanda Ampuero’s Cockfight that her next collection of short stories, Human Sacrifices, is just as relentlessly aggressive. The Ecuadorian author returns to the triggering themes of forced incest, sexual violence and class struggle. But the graphic stories are balanced out with ones to relish, like the man who induced gentrification getting his comeuppance, and the teenage girls whose ouija summoning takes a dark turn. 

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If a good short story collection emits a cohesive vibe, Ampuero’s is consistently nightmarish, as each story concerns itself with the violent truth of oppression, It begins with Biography, a tale following a refugee woman who answers a mysterious job ad and soon realises she won’t be able to escape her employer. By flinging faeces, blood and horror of psychopathic supernatural origin at the reader from the start, much like the harsh systematic forces that plague her work, Ampuero doesn’t relinquish her ever tightening grasp till the book’s end.  

Human Sacrifices cover

Ampuero’s selection of words and choice unfolding of events are often so shocking that it takes a moment for the dizziness to pass before you can comprehend the meaning between her violent words. Human Sacrifices is as brutal as its name implies, with little mercy or means of escape.

Billie Walker is a freelance writer

Human Sacrifices by María Fernanda Ampuero, translated by Frances Riddle, is out now (Influx, £8.99).

This article is taken from The Big Issue magazine, which exists to give homeless, long-term unemployed and marginalised people the opportunity to earn an income.To support our work buy a copy! If you cannot reach your local vendor, you can still click HERE to subscribe to The Big Issue today or give a gift subscription to a friend or family member. You can also purchase one-off issues from The Big Issue Shop or The Big Issue app, available now from the App Store or Google Play.

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