cover image Human Sacrifices

Human Sacrifices

María Fernanda Ampuero trans. from the Spanish by Frances Riddle. Feminist Press, $15.95 trade paper (144p) ISBN 978-1-558612-98-3

Ecuadorian writer Ampuero (Cockfight) explores class, race, and gender inequalities in these visceral stories that often revolve around violence and abuse in Latin America and the U.S. In “Believers,” a rich girl and her housekeeper’s daughter become best friends despite animosity between their families due to their class differences, and they spend their time spying on the white missionaries living with them. “Pietà” follows a house cleaner who feels duty-bound to assist the spoiled young man she helped raise after he murders his girlfriend, while “Edith” provides a wrenching sketch of a woman who is trapped in an abusive relationshipand allows her daughters be sexually abused by their father to buy time with her lover. In “Lorena,” an Ecuadorian woman immigrates to the U.S. and marries a heavy drinker named John (inspired by John Bobbitt), but their passionate relationship turns physically and sexually abusive (“We can never run out of Budweiser,” Lorena narrates. “It’s like they’re sponsoring us. If we run out for any reason John loses his mind. His face turns red and he blames me”). Though the onslaught of bleak situations and violence makes the collection feel a bit one-note, the stories’ strength lies in how Ampuero illuminates her characters’ pain and desperation. There’s a great deal of humanity in these difficult stories. (May)