Signs Preceding the End of the World

Signs Preceding the End of the World

Book - 2015
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From the author of "A Silent Fury," available Summer 2020.


Signs Preceding the End of the World is one of the most arresting novels to be published in Spanish in the last ten years. 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.


Publisher: London ; New York : And other stories, 2015.
Copyright Date: ©2015
ISBN: 9781908276421
1908276428
Branch Call Number: HERRERA
Characteristics: 114 pages ; 20 cm
Additional Contributors: Dillman, Lisa - Translator

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r
rclane
Jan 28, 2021

The mysterious underworld portrayed in minimalist, elegant prose is captivating!

If only this book were longer. It looks like 114 pages, but if one discounts the translator's notes, the spacious chapter pages and the fact that the story gets under way on page 11, it must be 80 - 85 pages max. Spare.

The translator's notes at the end were an interesting window into the process of bringing the work into English.

e
empbee
Oct 27, 2020

A touching poem in prose. A masterful translation.

w
wyenotgo
Sep 27, 2020

It occurs to me that this may have been the book that Jeanine Cummins wanted to write but could not, when she penned "American Dirt". Perhaps I’m being unfair to both writers, but by employing less dramatization, Herrera achieves a greater realism. And his superior prose emerges even in translation. A couple of passages will suffice to illustrate:
He defines in the sparest of terms the rules of daily life in a Mexican town under the control of the local “top dogs”:
"You don’t lift other people’s petticoats.
You don’t stop to wonder about other people’s business.
You don’t decide which messages to deliver and which to let rot.
You are the door, not the one who walks through it."
Reminiscent of the Mafia’s dictum “Omerta!” signifying loyalty and silence.
Most memorable was Makina’s message to a “patriotic” cop on the US side:
"We are to blame for this destruction, we who don’t speak your tongue and don’t know how to keep quiet either. We who didn’t come by boat, who dirty up your doorsteps with our dust, who break your barbed wire. We who came to take your jobs, who dream of wiping your shit, who long to work all hours. We who fill your shiny clean streets with the smell of food, who brought you violence you’d never known, who deliver your dope, who deserve to be chained by neck and feet. We who are happy to die for you, what else could we do? We the ones who are waiting for who knows what. We, the dark, the short, the greasy, the shifty, the fat, the anemic. We the barbarians."
A manifesto for a displaced, detested people.

f
fragola
Apr 10, 2019

Very cool, short and imaginative novel. Unusual and poetic.

l
lukasevansherman
Nov 08, 2018

According to Francisco Goldman, Yuri Herrera is "Mexico's greatest novelist." See for yourself. Part of a list put out by Powell's for Hispanic Heritage Month.

e
EmilyEm
Oct 09, 2018

This is a lyrical quest story of a young Mexcan woman’s search for her brother who has gone to the United States. Told in short chapters that chronicle aspects of her search, it has many of the magical realism elements I expect from Mexican writers. Chose and read this month because it’s Hispanic Heritage Month—haunting, beautiful, cautionary.

d
DylanMcGonigle
Aug 26, 2018

Beautiful, exhilarating, delicate and lovely. Yuri Herrera's little novel lands somewhere between myth, prose poem and devastating excavation of our times. Lisa Dillman's translation is en pointe—she captures the sparse lyricality of one of Mexico's most important writers. A must read!

u
uncommonreader
Jun 17, 2017

A story of borders and migration, raised to the level of myth. The translator explains decisions made about the use of special terms but nevertheless, I found the use of words such as "versing" for leaving jarring.

m
mclarjh
Jul 02, 2015

Powerful hard hitting story.

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