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Photo illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios. Photos: David Levenson, Ray Tang/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

Gone are the whimsical elements, and in come the suspense, the gothic and the noir. The new Latin American Boom is here, and it is being led by women.

What’s happening: Writers like Argentines Samanta Schweblin and Mariana Enríquez, Mexican Fernanda Melchor and Chilean Lina Meruane have made international waves with books that comment on quotidian violence — gender and otherwise — as well as othering through pulse-racing, enthralling and occasionally beautiful horror.

  • There are still fantastic beasts, like ghosts, but it's the real life monsters that lurk and disturb in the bold novels and short stories in the new wave of Latin American literature.
  • After accumulating various high-profile literary prizes in the Spanish-speaking world, the translations of Schweblin’s "Fever Dream," Melchor’s "Hurricane Season" and Enríquez’ "The Dangers of Smoking in Bed" also made the highly competitive shortlist for the International Booker Prize.
  • These writers follow in the footsteps of authors like Rosario Castellanos, Silvina Ocampo, Clarice Lispector and Elena Garro, who were less internationally recognized during the 60s boom than their male counterparts, but have steadily gained renown.

Between the lines: Reframing real-life horrors is also at the center of the most prominent of today’s male Latin American authors, notably Chilean Alejandro Zambra.

  • They examine ongoing conflicts in Colombia, the Chilean dictatorship and the cover-up of a mining disaster with intricacy and sometimes even humor.
  • Highly recommended are Zambra’s "Ways of Going Home," Mexican Yuri Herrera’s "Signs Preceding the End of the World," Colombian Juan Gabriel Vásquez's "The Shape of the Ruins," Peruvian Daniel Alarcón’s "At Night We Walk in Circles," and the yet-to-be-translated "El buscador de cabezas" by Antonio Ortuño.

What they’re saying: These are "stories that break tradition, and in spite of or because of that originality, draw us readers in. And if they make [us] laugh in the process, so much the better," said Megan McDowell, who has translated works by Schweblin, Zambra, Meruane and Enríquez.

  • "These stories and the way they’re told have on one hand an unconventionality, and on the other a universality, that will welcome and engage any reader who is open."

Of note: Several authors have also made their way into other media forms. Alarcón leads the popular (and highly recommended) podcast, "Radio Ambulante," while Enríquez is also focused on journalism as a newspaper editor.

  • Schweblin and Zambra have had a hand in adapting their own works into film, with Netflix’s upcoming "Fever Dream" and "Bonsai," which premiered at Cannes.
  • Melchor also scripted the recent Netflix show "Somos," which is about the victims of a Mexican massacre.

Go deeper

Updated 5 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Texas governor: "All hostages are out alive and safe"

SWAT team members deploy near the Congregation Beth Israel Synagogue in Colleyville, Texas. Photo: Andy Jacobsohn/AFP via Getty Images

All four hostages have been safely released after a day-long standoff at Congregation Beth Israel in Colleyville, Texas, Gov. Greg Abbott (R) said on Saturday night.

The latest: "Around 9 p.m., the HRT — hostage rescue team — breached the synagogue, they rescued the three [remaining] hostages, the suspect is deceased," said police chief Michael Miller of Colleyville, located roughly 15 miles northeast of Fort Worth. The other hostage had been released earlier Saturday.

The new normal: Google searches reveal America's COVID shopping habits

Data: The New Normal; Google Trends; Chart: Jared Whalen/Axios

As the pandemic enters its third year, some of America's COVID-era shopping habits — including strong demand for tequila and sweatpants — are here to stay.

Driving the news: Axios worked with Google Trends and the Schema Design firm to create The New Normal, which analyzes the products Americans have Googled since 2020. Items with a lasting increase in search interest help fill in the details of what our "new normal" looks like.

Updated 10 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Omicron dashboard

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

  1. Health: Concerns grow over CDC's isolation guidelines — Experts warn of more COVID-19 variants after Omicron — WHO recommends 2 new treatments — What "mild" really means when it comes to Omicron — Deaths are climbing as cases skyrocket.
  2. Vaccines: America's vaccination drive runs out of gas— Puerto Rico expands booster shot requirements— Supreme Court blocks Biden's vaccine mandate for large employers.
  3. Politics: You can start ordering free COVID tests Wednesday — Focus group says Biden weak on COVID response, strong on democracy — Biden deploying military medical staff to help overwhelmed hospitals.
  4. Economy: America's labor shortage is bigger than the pandemic— Nurses across the U.S. strike against COVID working conditions— CDC COVID guidance for cruise ships to be optional starting Saturday — The cost of testing.
  5. States: Biden admin threatens to take back Arizona's COVID aid over anti-mask rules — Students across U.S. walkout of classes to demand safer COVID protocols — West Virginia governor feeling "extremely unwell" after positive test — Youngkin ends mandates for masks in schools and COVID vaccinations for state workers.
  6. World: Beijing reports first local Omicron case weeks before Winter Olympics — Teachers in France stage mass walkout over COVID protocols.
  7. Variant tracker