Two astonishing novellas, by 'Mexico's greatest novelist', in one volume.
Hilarious and horrifying, Yuri Herrera's The Transmigration of Bodies is a gritty, feverish novella, written in dazzling prose that is both bawdy and poetic. A plague has brought death to the city. Two feuding crime families with blood on their hands need our hard-boiled hero, The Redeemer, to broker peace. Both his instincts and the vacant streets warn him to stay indoors, but The Redeemer ventures out into the city's underbelly to arrange for the exchange of the bodies they hold hostage. Lust and crime and a lack of condoms all feature in this brilliant novella about living in a city filled with the dead, and where no one can distinguish between the guilty and the innocent.
A response to the violence of contemporary Mexico, with echoes of Romeo and Juliet, Roberto Bolaño and Raymond Chandler, The Transmigration of Bodies is a noir tragedy and a tribute to those bodies—loved, sanctified and defiled—that violent crime has touched.
Signs Preceding the End of the World is a masterpiece, haunting and arresting, spare and poetic, a condensed epic about immigration. Yuri Herrera does not simply write about the border between Mexico and the United States and those who cross it. He explores the crossings and translations people make in their minds and language as they move from one country to another, especially when there's no going back.
Traversing this lonely territory is Makina, a young woman who knows only too well how to survive in a violent, macho world. Leaving behind her life in Mexico to search for her brother, she is smuggled into the USA carrying a pair of secret messages—one from her mother and one from the Mexican underworld.
Yuri Herrera was born in Actopan, Mexico, in 1970. He studied politics in Mexico, creative writing in El Paso and took his PhD in literature at Berkeley. His first novel to appear in English, Signs Preceding the End of the World, was published to critical acclaim in 2015 and included in many Best-of-Year lists. He is currently teaching at the University of Tulane, in New Orleans.
'A slim and potent novel about an unnamed city emptied out by plague, and one character's desperate scramble to unite two warring clans (think Baz Luhrmann's film Romeo and Juliet, but set in the landscape of Children of Men and written in the jagged-glass prose of James Cain).' New York Times Book Review
'Mexico's Yuri Herrera is a rare thing: a writer to get truly excited about...It is writing that is simultaneously concise and epic, dynamically plotted and intelligent, aware of literary heritage and stunningly original...This is stunning writing that demands and deserves attention.' Saturday Paper
'[The Transmigration of Bodies] captures the feel of the post-epidemic world with consummate ease: the paranoia and desperation are almost palpable.' BookMooch
'Herrera knows what he is talking about and says it as it is, with power and without restraint.' Otago Daily Times
'There's a weight to Herrera's concise prose, more to extrapolate from his simple sentences than a first glance might imply. These two novellas are stunningly original pieces of work from a writer to watch.' Simon McDonald
'A splendid and magnificent read...The language is an absolute tribute to the translator.' Radio New Zealand
'Herrera's novella becomes a micro-epic, at once clear and ambiguous, transcultural, localised but applicable to countless sagas of migration across the globe. In scarcely...