Senor Vivo and the Coco Lord
In an unnamed South American country resembling Colombia, Dionisio Vivo, a fearless philosophy professor who exposes the country's illegal coca trade in a letter-writing campaign to a leading newspaper, miraculously evades repeated assassination attempts. But his best friend, Ramon, a policeman, and his sweetheart, Anica, who is sexually assaulted by the drug baron's goons, do not escape the cocaine cartel's wrath. Dionisio, who converses telepathically with animals and walks everywhere accompanied by two black jaguars, takes his revenge in a series of events by turns ribald, surreal, horrific, uproarious and tragic. The supernatural constantly intrudes on a landscape of cruel poverty, as exemplified by Father Garcia, a levitating priest, and Lazaro, a hermaphroditic leper cured by a sorcerer. Yet de Bernieres, who lives in London, makes us keenly aware of the drug trade's corrosive effects on a society where drive-by murders are commonplace.