The Transmigration of Bodies
Shortlisted for the 2017 Oxford-Weidenfeld Translation Prize
Shortlisted for the 2018 International Dublin Literary Award
“These days we walk right past a body on the street, and we have to stop pretending we can’t see it.”
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 Bolaño 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.Read an Excerpt
- If you had subscribed to And Other Stories before 9th November 2015, you would have received the first edition of the book – in which all subscribers are thanked by name – before its official publication, as well us up to five other And Other Stories titles per year. Find out about subscribing to upcoming titles here.
- Granta magazine’s Love issue features an excerpt from The Transmigration of Bodies. Read it here.
- Read about Yuri Herrera’s other books, Signs Preceding the End of the World and Kingdom Cons, and A Silent Fury: The El Bordo Mine Fire.
- You can hear Yuri Herrera talking to Richard Lea on Guardian Podcast about borderlands and border crossing (from 15m 40s in).
- Read The Skinny‘s interview with Yuri Herrera.
- Hear Herrera discussing his first ever book in English with Green Apple Books here.
‘Bracingly unbookish . . . The after-effect is more like that of a video game or Marvel comic, with both the brightness and unabashed flatness those entail. Darkly satisfying . . . Swift, slick images and one-liners glitter at regular intervals.’
The Wall Street Journal
‘Herrera packs his slim book with the sex, booze and nihilism of a better Simenon novella . . . Dillman brings out a gritty, pulpy flavor in the writing.’
Los Angeles Times
‘Herrera pivots from border fabulist to noirish raconteur, bringing his considerable allegorical powers to bear on a facet of contemporary Mexican culture: Namely, its legacy of violence. Herrera’s prose, deftly translated by Lisa Dillman, is lean and hard-boiled — and often caustically poetic — though underpinned by a sort of wry self-awareness. For all the apocalyptic strangeness of his settings — permeable borders, plague addled cities — his stories mold something rich and fundamental from the stuff of prosaic life.’
‘The author of playful, prophetic, unnerving books that deserve to be read several times, with dialogue so telling it eats into your brain rather like the worm in the Redeemer’s preferred mescal, Herrera is a writer for our doomed epoch.’
‘Herrera’s brilliantly surreal turns of phrase mirror the strangeness of the world: he knows that brutal everyday truths are best revealed through dreams. Blood-soaked, driven deep and expertly written.’
NPR Fresh Air
‘Yuri Herrera [is] my favorite of the new Mexican writers. The Transmigration of Bodies goes straight for the soul. Unsettling and deep, Herrera transmigrates us to a Mexico that feels like a metaphysical condition, a timeless kingdom in which the living are forever dancing with the dead.’
‘The Transmigration of Bodies takes the conventions of gumshoe fiction and transfers them to a charnel-house world that makes nonsense of the genre’s habitual moral opposites . . . There’s plenty to admire about this allegorical vision of a country under lockdown, where violence and death have ceased to be the motors for fiction, instead becoming the backdrop of everyday life.’
Booksellers on The Transmigration of Bodies
‘Yuri Herrera's novels are like little lights in a vast darkness. I want to see whatever he shows me.’ Stephen Sparks, Green Apple Books, San Francisco, CA. ‘This is as noir should be, written with all the grit and grime of hard-boiled crime and all the literary merit we're beginning to expect from Herrera. Before the end he'll have you asking how, in the shadow of anonymity, do you differentiate between the guilty and the innocent?’ Tom Harris, Mr B’s Emporium, Bath. ‘Both hysterical and bleak, The Transmigration of Bodies builds an entire world in 100 pages. Herrera's ability to express everything in so few words, his skill of merging the argot of the streets with the poetry of life is unrivalled. The world his characters inhabit is dangerous and urban, like a postcard sent from the ends of the earth. Reading his compact novels is both exhilarating and unforgettable.’ Mark Haber, Brazos Bookstore, Houston, TX. ‘A fabulous book full of low-life characters struggling to get by. It's an everyday story of love, lust, disease and death. Indispensable.’ Matthew Geden, Waterstones Cork, Ireland. ‘Reading The Transmigration of Bodies was akin to being enveloped in a dream state, yet one that upon waking somehow makes profound sense. Another truly magnificent novel from one of the most exciting authors to emerge on the world stage for aeons.’ Ray Mattinson, Blackwell’s, Oxford. ‘A microcosmic look at the lives of two families straight out of a Shakespearean drama. Pick it up and you won't put it down till you've finished.’ Grace Waltemyer, Posman Books in Chelsea Market, NY. ‘A work replete with the gritty, informal prose first displayed in Signs — rooted firmly in the modern world yet evoking the feel of an epic divorced from time . . . a cross between Cormac McCarthy and a detective novel, an incisive portrait evoking a Mexican Inherent Vice.’ Marina Clementi, Seminary Co-op Bookstore, Chicago, IL. ‘The Transmigration of Bodies reads like a fever dream: an intense, enthralling examination of how people live in a city of the dying and the dead. It takes an extraordinary amount of skill to combine elements of noir, political commentary, hardboiled crime, and allegory (not to mention Shakespeare, with a seasoning of existential ennui) and keep the novel moving, or in this case, racing along. Herrera, clearly, has at least that much talent, and then some.’ Thomas Flynn, Volumes Bookcafe, Chicago, IL.