The Mexico we hear of in the news—the drug cartels, migration and senseless violence—is rich soil for Herrera’s moving stories of people who live in this reality but also live in the timeless realm of myth, epic and fairy tale, such as the singer Lobo in Kingdom Cons who loves the drug lord’s own daughter, Makina who crosses borders to find her brother in Signs Preceding the End of the World, and the Redeemer, a hard-boiled hero looking to broker peace between feuding families during a pandemic in The Transmigration of Bodies.
These three novels get to the heart of the matter in a truly original way. They are storytelling that is at once timely and timeless.
Yuri Herrera was born in Actopan, Mexico, in 1970. He received his PhD for Hispanic Language and Literature from UC Berkeley. Signs Preceding the End of the Worldis his English-language debut novel. It was shortlisted for the Rómulo Gallegos Prize and is being published in several languages. His latest novel, The Transmigration of Bodies , is forthcoming in English from And Other Stories in 2016. He is currently teaching at Tulane University in New Orleans.
Lisa Dillman is based in Atlanta, Georgia, where she translates Spanish, Catalan and Latin American writers and teaches at Emory University. Her recent translations include The Frost on His Shoulders by Lorenzo Mediano, Op Oloop by Juan Filloy (longlisted for the Best Translated Book Award), Me, Who Dove into the Heart of the World by Sabina Berman and Rain Over Madrid by Andrés Barba. She is obsessed with words, running, cooking and her dog, Maya.
itself seems to be invested with a strange demiurgic force. Herrera’s style –
both precise and elusive, specific and elliptical – is uncannily well suited to
depict the in-between state his characters inhabit.” —Tony Wood, LRB
“Herrera shuns proper names of people
and places: Mexico City is the “Big Chilango,” characters bear names such as
the Artist, the Witch, and Mr. Q. His ghostly landscapes are reminiscent of
Rulfo’s in the iconic novel Pedro Páramo, but his characters are even more
ethereal. Many are up to no good, delivering packages whose contents we can
only guess at, trying to avoid falling into vast sinkholes and the jails of La
Migra. The bad guys speak as if in a Peckinpah film. [...] The [three novels are] even more
powerful read together. A welcome gathering of centrifugal works by one of
Mexico’s most accomplished contemporary writers.” —Kirkus Reviews, starred review
Praise for Yuri Herrera
“Yuri Herrera is Mexico’s greatest novelist. His spare, poetic narratives and incomparable prose read like epics compacted into a single perfect punch – they ring your bell, your being, your soul.”—Francisco Goldman, author of Say Her Name
“Mr. Herrera’s writing is poetic and defamiliarizing; translator Lisa Dillman has done well to capture his neologisms, which shift the setting into the surreal.”
— Sam Sacks, Wall Street Journal
“My favorite of the new Mexican writers.” —John Powers, NPR Fresh Air
“Herrera’s metaphors grasp the freedom, and the alarming disorientation, of transition and translation.” —Maya Jaggi, The Guardian
“Yuri Herrera’s tiny, beautiful novels each conjure myth and metaphor from a contemporary experience in a precise location, transformed by archaic-colloquial prose.” —Lorna Scott-Fox, Times Literary Supplement
“Playful, prophetic, unnerving books that deserve to be read several times.” —Eileen Battersby, Irish Times
Praise for The Transmigration of Bodies
“Herrera’s characteristic concision goes a step further here, his skill for expression more impressive in its restraint than its excess. This is a harsh novel, as are those from a borderland besieged by extreme violence, but it’s also oddly comforting, in large part due to its exceptional literary quality.”—El País
“The Transmigration of Bodies is a magnificent book and its author one of the few indispensable Latin American writers of our times.”—Patricio Pron, author of My Fathers’ Ghost Is Climbing in the Rain
Praise for Kingdom Cons
"I was captured by Kingdom Cons, by Yuri Herrera. His writing style is like nobody else’s, a unique turn of language, a kind of poetic slang... seeming to fall in my hands from an alternative sky.” —Patti Smith
“Razor sharp and inimitable—crafted in a way that resembles fable—Kingdom Cons is set in the wake of chaos around the border: the border between two particular countries, yes, but also between worlds, between possibilities, and between ways of seeing.” —John Ganiard, Literati Bookstore, Ann Arbor MI
“Herrera’s ability to capture the mind's eye and weave an indelible image and story is uncanny. This, his third novel, might be his best yet. In Kingdom Cons Herrera delivers a stunning example of how art can dissolve boundaries and speak truth to power.” —Matt Keliher, Subtext Books, St Paul, MN
“Kingdom Cons is revelatory. I think Yuri Herrera has created his own genre. The mix of high and low culture, the argot of the streets with the poetic narrative—it's something else. Mexico as a hallucination.” —Mark Haber, Brazos Bookstore, Houston, TX