In this iridescent gem of a novel, Louis de Bernières returns to the territory he mapped so well in 'The war of Don Emmanuel's Nether Parts', a South American country of resplendent eccentricity, gargantuan corruption, and terrifying violence, where the ordinary machinery of government has rusted and the only thing that works is magic. When Dionisio Vivo, a young lecturer in philosophy, bombards the newspapers with denunciations of the cocaine mafia, he becomes a hero and a target. He is soon accustomed to the corpses that turn up on his doorstep, and attempts on his life backfire so wildly that Señor Vivo acquires a reputation for supernatural invulnerability - as well as a following of young women who are fiercely determined to bear his child. But Dionisio's protection does not extend to those he loves. And what began as a farce turns into a novel of tragic love and macabre revenge, filled with characters of outsized vitality and prose that sings.