You may not have heard of Juan Rulfo, but you've more than likely heard of the writers for whom his novella Pedro Páramo was a revelation - Márquez in particular, but also Fuentes, Asturias, Paz. It is a story with a deceptively simple plot: a man promises his dying mother that he will return to Comala, the town where she once lived, to meet his father, Pedro Páramo. So begins a story built on the experiences and reflections of different characters - alive and dead - narrating at different periods of time, whether in the days of Pedro Páramo's melancholy childhood, his rise as a despot, or the subsequent decline of Comala into a literal ghost town. In some sense a dictator novel, in others a family saga, a ghost tale or even a love story, Pedro Páramo is compulsive because of Rulfo's skill at conveying atmosphere, scene and believable irreality - what was later to be known as magic realism. The book is alive; terrible as it is, Comala is brilliantly painted and its inhabitants gritty, fatalistic and haunting. An indisputable classic of huge influence.