Mariana Enríquez was born in Buenos Aires in 1973, just a few years before a military junta took over the democratic government in Argentina. Her childhood was spent among whispers of people being taken in the night, fears of having her parents leave the house, and a dense silence that weighed over every interaction.

Mariana retreated to books. She clearly remembers the first time she read the master of horror, Stephen King: “It was very intense. I was living that book. To me, at that moment, that book was real. This atmosphere that makes you go inside of fiction and find some truth in fiction to the point that you live inside it.”

When the dictatorship ended in 1983, the brutal repression of the regime began to be slowly unearthed. At home, in school, and all over the news she was consuming, Mariana’s teenage years were marked by the horrendous facts and stories about the atrocities committed during the dictatorship. It was also the time when Mariana started writing. “It could have been that the load was so heavy that I could start writing other things, more intimate things, but I think that was the first horror — authentic, real horror — things that I read.”

Mariana is one of the best-known writers of a growing literary trend in Latin America that uses the horror genre to denounce the violent realities of the region — past and present. She uses her fiction to process the historical traumas of the dictatorship. She’s published short stories, novels, and non-fiction, and in 2021, she was shortlisted for the International Booker prize, with her short story collection, “The Dangers of Smoking in Bed.”

Cover of “Our Share of Night,” by Mariana Enríquez.

Her latest novel, “Our Share of Night,” came out in English earlier this year, and it’s an ambitious book — with over 700 pages — that seeks to unravel generational trauma and violence. In this episode, Mariana shares how her connection with horror started and how she uses the genre to speak of the reality she has witnessed.

Featured image by Florencia Cosin.

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