In-Betweenness

Tony Wood

  • Signs Preceding the End of the World by Yuri Herrera, translated by Lisa Dillman
    And Other Stories, 114 pp, £8.99, March 2015, ISBN 978 1 908276 42 1
  • The Transmigration of Bodies by Yuri Herrera, translated by Lisa Dillman
    And Other Stories, 101 pp, £8.99, July 2016, ISBN 978 1 908276 72 8

‘I didn’t cross the line, the line crossed me,’ a character in Yuri Herrera’s first book, Trabajos del reino (2004), remarks. In Mexico ‘la línea’ often means the border with the US, but in this case the words also refer to an ethical transition: the speaker is a former US law enforcement official who decided to throw in his lot with the narcos he had been pursuing. ‘Since then he’d been with the good guys,’ the narrator says. Herrera’s three novels to date all revolve around the breaching of different kinds of boundary, between languages, worlds, moral universes. All three are written in a compressed, richly metaphorical style that shifts between registers and genres with deceptive smoothness, from the mythic to the mundane, from allegory to noir and back again. There’s also a deliberate blurring of place and time: all three unfold in an unspecified country that is suggestive of Mexico yet never quite comes into focus – a Mexico of the mind.

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[*] The novel is slated for publication in English next year as Kingdom Cons.