REVIEW Ï Señales ue precederán al fin del mundo

CHARACTERS Señales ue precederán al fin del mundo

REVIEW Ï Señales ue precederán al fin del mundo ´ Winner of the 2016 Best Translated Book Award for FictionSigns 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 whoWoman 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 underwor. While this is a wonderful translation I’m sure this novella works even better in its original Spanish Language is one of its themes— native versus latin versus anglo versus a new hybrid tongue—reminding me of Elena Ferrante in that one respect only It’s a deceptively simple work with Dantean and Greek mythological undertones and I’m guessing other currents I’m not familiar with Not wanting to put it down I read it in one night and feeling unsettled upon finishing I immediately reread the first section I haven't stopped thinking about the book since then—there are subterranean depths here Perhaps I will reread it before I return it to the library; or perhaps I will be daring and though it’s been too many years since my high school and college Spanish courses try to read it in its original language I wavered between 4 and 5 stars but anytime I want to reread a work so soon I feel it deserves the full fiveCoincidentally yet fittingly exactly one day after the presidential election I attended a program with Herrera he’s a professor at a university here in New Orleans and Jorge F Hernández also a Mexican writer As you can imagine the mood was one of somberness and bewilderment Yet there was one older man in the audience who was so astounded and full of joy to be able to talk to Herrera after reading this work of borders and conduits that I knew I had to read it too such is the consolation of literature

Yuri Herrera  1 REVIEW

Winner of the 2016 Best Translated Book Award for FictionSigns 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 th. Reread Update after the review You are a door not the one who walks throughThe setting sun ‘ like a giant pool of drying blood’ casts lengthy human shaped shadows along the mountainside that bridges the past to the future the old to the new the dying to the living Behold the great transmigration of souls the hopeful and damned stripped of all but necessity slouching towards a nightmare of turmoil One can only hope the storm clouds part upon a fresh world built on the sturdy bricks of the past and the bones of ancestors to safely house the new souls in this always imperfect yet striving world And then comes dawn and this new hope is but a cruel trick a new land where outsiders are feared scored abused and oppressed Yuri Herrera takes our hand to deliver us through this crossing in Signs Preceding the End of the World a tale of border crossing to bring back family permeated by an ominous tone of apocalyptic dread Herrera champions language as the battalions fighting the dying monarchy of borderlines through his crisp stylistic tale where a crossing means leaving behind than just your home Real adventures rough you upWhile most of us have not undergone a crossing as dire and dear as that of our heroine seeking out her brother in America on a trail of brutality fear and sinister opposition in a devil’s deal of the underworld activity we all have experienced the sort of ‘crossing’ that beats the rhythm of life in Signs Be it leaving behind your hometown for a new start or being driven from your homeland going away to college starting a family experiencing a crushing separation etc et al we all must cross the test of a mountain to arrive at a new and uncertain future throughout our lives This passing changes us molds us like clay into the person we are becoming while we leave behind pieces of our souls with every footfall on the way Sometimes we get to where we wished to go sometimes we are lost in the fray For every new beginning we must withstand the death throes of the past which can haunt you in the night and and beset you with fear and regret yet we must press forward For the future and progress depends on the fearless who see through the apocalypse and begin anew They speak an intermediary tongue that Makina instantly warms to because it’s like her malleable erasable permeable; a hinge pivoting between two like but distant souls and then two and then two never exactly the same ones; something that serves as a link We are the conduits of change We are the erasable and malleable those that must shed our skin to see the dawn of a new era Herrera paints a world of Mexicans crossing into America shedding blood sweat and tears to earn a paycheck Makina notices that in every restaurant there are Mexican cooks and laughs that ‘ all food is Mexican food’ The cultures are commingling borrowing from one another and forging something new Even by borrowing or adopting the language of the other we create something fresh from the cohesion ‘ it’s not another way of saying things these are new things’ While the novel shows the way Mexican culture is becoming part of the culture in the US there is also a predominant theme in the novel that the United States is far from a welcoming utopia The journey across the border is difficult and once across it is a violent and oppressive landscape where people will murder you in the false name of “patriotism” people will oppress harm and even attempt to elect leaders to alter laws to accomodate bigotry and fan the flames of racial fear white people have to any outsiders Look at the current state of the United States with horrific anti immigration attempts in Arizona a rise in deportations children separated from their families and placed in separate holding cells while they await an uncertain fate handed down by judges who only profit from their misery Late in the novel a character is given a rigged choice that places him in military service This speaks volumes Here we have people from Mexico being oppressed into a violent imperialist arm of the US government the same arm that robbed Mexico of their land in the past and enforces a border through bloodshed It shows people serving a nation that does not love them back and discards them like rags once their service is complete allowing many veterans to go homeless without the proper support they need This is a piercing portrait of the United States and one we must not look away from but confront head on It will only get worse if we do not move forward with empathy love and understandingHerrera employs powerful stylistic choices that bring the novel to life and supply further commentary on his themes Language prose and poetry is what can save us help us in dark times etch our story into history and be the piercing dagger into the hearts of our enemies It is the sheer honesty of poetry that gets Makina through one of her toughest binds This is a story brilliantly translated¹ and full of dialect and collouialisms that bring the story to life in a fascinating immediacy This is the language of life not a stuffy academic reenactment though all the hallmarks of serious theory are present There are uniue line breaks that let the story flow like a river and make poetry out of the mundane The José Saramago like dialogue shucking off uotation marks and mashing multiple interlocutor's words into a single paragraph only offset by periods to denote a change of speaker as well as the replete free indirect narration knitting Makina to the outside observer illuminates a world where borders race gender heritage native tongue etc comingle into one unit called Humans Yet we see that this is not the case where in America there is staunch resistance to acceptance and as we witness with the brother the upper classes feast on the lower classes to retain their power Their tongue is a nebulous territory between what is dying and what is not yet bornFor the new world to start the old must end Herrera chronicles the ending of an era through dark haunting apocalyptic imagery Buildings become a void in the ground ‘ expelled from this world’ bigots are demonic fiery bearded gatekeepers and to press forward she must leave behind all she knows and has to the wasteland of the past Makina passes through the gates from her world to the new where change is afoot and all is frightening and fresh Herrera employs defamiliarization to perfection in making common American traditions seem barbaric and unnatural The description of a baseball game something ‘ anglosplay to celebrate who they are’ is accurate yet seemingly alien One of them whacks it then sets off like it was a trip around the world to every one of the bases out there you know the anglos have bases all over the world right Well the one who whacked it runs from one to the next while the others keep taking swings to distract the enemies and if he doesn’t get caught he makes it home and his people welcome him with open arms and cheering The passage is very telling of many aspects to the story from the American military and colonialism to the crossings people make to America and back welcomed with open arms if they return Everyone had to do something for themselvesAlas the progress towards the future is hunted like a rabbit by wolves ravenous teeth hellbent on self satisfaction at the blood loss of others Makina’s brother and countless others who made the crossing to seek brighter horizons find themselves not only at the mercy of those who despise their kind simply for the nationality but those who will wring blood from a stone for profit Makina’s brother is skinned of his identity to take that of an American boy symbolic of the way that the new world doesn’t want the melting pot they preach but assimilation into their own bereft of the culture of old ‘ We are the barbarians’ Makina writes The ones who dream the American dream work the hard hours in filthy jobs the backbone of the society are the same the ‘patriotic’ white upper class shuns and spits upon Their assimilation reeks of the imperialism of old of Missionaries sailing the seas with religious conversion as a cover for their thirst in gold and slavery They live in fear of the lights going out as if every day wasn’t already made of lightning and blackouts They need us They want to live forever but still can’t see that for that to work they need to change color and number But it’s already happening We must not cling to the world we know as it is dying within our fingertips but embrace the future embrace the union of humanity that can evaporate cultural and political borderlines because only together can we cross the thresholds of a brighter future not apart Make the world anew Sings Preceding the End of the World moves swiftly and subtly with even the most brutal and emotionally charged moments fleeting the winds like a ghost in your peripheral vision It is part of a soon to be past that is a necessity for a future and we cannot cling to anything if we want to get there Even a bullet through the ribs must be forgotten and glossed over if our goal is to be achieved Herrera’s novel is a stunning portrait of stylization and linguistic brilliance that serves as a battlecry for a open minded world in which we do not judge one another by outward appearance or culture but welcome one and all into the party of humanity We all have our mountains and borders to cross lets welcome those who make it with open arms They are the true heros in this world they are fighting for4555 We are to blame for this destruction we who don’t speak your tongue and don’t know how to keep uiet 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 barbarians¹ Signs Preceding the End of the World must have been no small task to translate The style and language is so pertinent to the understanding of the story and Lisa Dillman pulls it off with flair retaining the original intent of the prose after all the mashing and grinding of the cogworks of translation and bestowing Herrera’s gift unto English speaking readers in a way they can process accurately Dillman claims she read the story several times over each read paying specific attention to different key themes to best analyze the translation and consulted the prose of similar works both stylistically and thematically to further understand the relationship between theme and prose She states that Cormac McCarthy’s The Road was the most beneficial text she approached for translation purposes which may mean something to some of you The sparseness and lack of traditional punctuation or form that provides a uniue fluidity to the novel seem akin in the two books—both addressing a new post apocalypse world though in very different manners—and the pairing is uite interesting to contemplate REREAD UPDATE I recently revisited this incredible novella and found it delivered a formidable power than I remembered Looking back at my review below from 2015 I see the same issues the novel addresses have only gotten worse and disturbing Family separations were happening in 2015 yet in 2020 it has only gotten worse and despite being a national topic of conversation nothing has been done to stop it Children are dying in ICE custody and these agents are not facing conseuences but instead are making profit A border wall is being funded through tax payer dollars being diverted from important needs while environmental protections are being dramatically slashed Even here in Holland Mi our own representative Bill Huizenga has worked to stoke fear of immigration while undercutting the Great Lakes Photos of the Vice President Pence show him looking disinterested and mildly disgusted at refugees packed into overcrowded cages receiving little to no care while their children are in a different concentration camp being drugged into submission and wondering if they will ever see their families again We are all complicit if we are silent on this As mentioned in the review we cannot look away and must press on through ‘the weariness we feel at the monuments of another history ’ This book is extremely powerful and important For a small book it packs an immense array of well explored themes There are things that I wish I would have phrased better in the original review but I’ve left it in its original state I’d like to believe people can learn and grow I strongly recommend this book


Señales ue precederán al fin del mundoE 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 backTraversing this lonely territory is Makina a young. I read this short but powerful and poetic novella because it has been chosen for a group read by the 21st Century Literature group The story tells of a young Mexican woman Makina who travels across the border illegally in search of her brother In order to do this she has to deal with various criminal gangs This is just the start and she meets a number of challenges and remains a feisty but sympathetic heroine As such she represents various universal truths of the migrant experience and exposes the hypocrisy of the hosts who denigrate and harass them while benefiting from their labourThe book must have been a difficult challenge for the translator so much so that she felt she had to explain some of her decisions in an afterword In particular Herrera uses a mixture of slang and allusive poetic descriptions and uses certain words in strange ways In order to replicate this the words used in the translation often seem very strange particularly to a non American ear but the overall effect is powerful and the ending is moving