The Transmigration of Bodies (Paperback)
It was no surprise at all to me that Yuri Herrera’s US debut, Signs Preceding the End of the World, was such a huge hit at our Oakland store last year — one of our top-selling books of the year, in fact. I described the realism of that novel as akin to that of a vivid dream. There are a good many "causes," whose effects proliferate … but at a peculiar, withheld pace that somehow advances by keeping its distance.
Not coincidentally, Herrera is one of the great novelists concerned with what borders mean and do. Where his previous novel was apocalyptic in its depiction of borders — with its mythological structure — his latest is perhaps more existentially epidemic. Violence is a sickness endured and spread, and it traffics in bodies in motion.
Perhaps less epic in its scope, Herrera’s foray into noir has a kind of (more or less nameless) specificity that will resonate in different (but not unrelated) ways. After all, the borders between one body and another, are permeable, sometimes imperceptible … but they are thick with meaning and possibility.
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. Yuri Herrera's novel is a response to the violence of contemporary Mexico. With echoes of Romeo and Juliet, Roberto Bolano and Raymond Chandler, The Transmigration of Bodies is a noirish tragedy and a tribute to those bodies - loved, sanctified, lusted after, and defiled - that violent crime has touched