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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.
‘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 more than one hundred pages, it encapsulates a story that is much bigger than itself.
On March 10, 1920, in Pachuca, Mexico, the Compañía de Santa Gertrudis — the largest employer in the region, and a subsidiary of the United States Smelting, Refining and Mining Company — may have committed murder.
The alert was first raised at six in the morning: a fire was tearing through the El Bordo mine. After a brief evacuation, the mouths of the shafts were sealed. Company representatives hastened to assert that “no more than ten” men remained inside the mineshafts, and that all ten were most certainly dead. Yet when the mine was opened six days later, the death toll was not ten, but eighty-seven. And there were seven survivors.
A century later, acclaimed novelist Yuri Herrera has reconstructed a workers’ tragedy at once globally resonant and deeply personal: Pachuca is his hometown. His work is an act of restitution for the victims and their families, bringing his full force of evocation to bear on the injustices that suffocated this horrific event into silence.
‘Yuri Herrera has been described as Mexico’s greatest living novelist…Believe the hype.’ Readings
In the court of the King, everyone knows their place. But as the Artist wins hearts and egos with his ballads, uncomfortable truths emerge that shake the Kingdom to its core.
Part surreal fable and part crime romance, Kingdom Cons by Yuri Herrera questions the price of keeping your integrity in a world ruled by patronage and power.
Described as ‘Mexico’s greatest novelist’, Yuri Herrera has followed up The Transmigration of Bodies and Signs Preceding the End of the World with an extraordinary story about passion and violence, about the vital role of the Artist in our society, and about the strangeness of our world.
Born in Actopan, Mexico, in 1970, Yuri Herrera 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, as did his second novel, The Transmigration of Bodies, in 2016. He is currently teaching at the University of Tulane in New Orleans.
‘Herrera creates a radically new language and condenses into a few pages what other authors need hundreds to convey…a surprising literary jewel’ Nation
‘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 writing that demands and deserves attention.’ Saturday Paper on The Transmigration of Bodies and Signs Preceding the End of the World
‘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 on The Transmigration of Bodies
‘Yuri Herrera must be a thousand years old. He must have travelled to hell, and heaven, and back again. He must have once been a girl, an animal, a rock, a boy, and a woman. Nothing else explains the vastness of his understanding.’ Valeria Luiselli