Yuri Herrera

Signs Preceding the End of the World

Winner of the 2016 Best Translated Book Award for Fiction

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.

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  • If you had subscribed to And Other Stories before Signs Preceding the End of the World went to the printers, 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 how to subscribe.
  • Hear Herrera discussing his first ever book in English with Green Apple Books here and talking to Richard Lea on Guardian Podcast about borderlands and border crossing (from 15m 40s in)
  • Josh Begley’s short film “Best of Luck with the Wall,” was inspired by  Yuri Herrera’s Signs Preceding.
  • Patti Smith loves Yuri‘s Signs Preceding the End of the World and Kingdom Cons
  • Chosen by The Guardian on the 21st September 2019 as one of  ‘The 100 Best Books of the 21st Century’
Print status: Available
Author: Yuri Herrera
Translator: Lisa Dillman
Original language: Spanish
Format: B-format paperback
Publication date: 5 March 2015
ISBN: 9781908276421
Ebook ISBN: 9781908276438
Availability: World (excl Aus & NZ)
Number of pages: 128


Maya Jaggi
The Guardian

‘[T]his marvellously rich, slim novel is working on many levels . . . Herrera’s great achievement lies in elevating the harsh epic of “crossing” to the “other side” to soaring myth. There are allusions to Odysseus, Orpheus and the Styx, the river of Greek mythology that was a border to the Underworld; as well as Mesoamerican stories of shapeshifting and rebirth . . . Herrera’s metaphors grasp the freedom, and the alarming disorientation, of transition and translation . . . Translator Lisa Dillman has found a language both blunt and lyrical for Herrera’s many neologisms.’

John Williams
New York Times

‘Short, suspenseful . . . outlandish and heartbreaking.’

Sam Sacks
Wall Street Journal

‘Mr. Herrera’s writing is poetic and defamiliarizing; translator Lisa Dillman has done well to capture his neologisms, which shift the setting into the surreal . . . In this legend-rich book, to immigrate is to enter forever the land of the shades.’

Anthony Cummins
Times Literary Supplement

‘The narrative invites reflection on the migrant experience and cultural difference; it also supplies the excitement of an adventure with gangsters, guns and false leads . . . Yuri Herrera combines a dreamlike setting with vigorous style.’

Francisco Goldman, author of Say Her Name

‘Yuri Herrera is Mexico’s greatest novelist. His spare, poetic narratives and incomparable prose read like epics compacted into a single perfect punch – they ring your bell, your being, your soul. Signs Preceding the End of the World delivers a darkly mythological vision of the U.S. as experienced by the “not us” that is harrowing and fierce. The profoundly dignified, mind-boggling Makina, our guide and translator, is the heroine who redeems us all: she is the Truth.’

Valeria Luiselli

‘Yuri Herrera must be a thousand years old. He must have travelled to hell, and heaven, and back again. He must have once been a girl, an animal, a rock, a boy, and a woman. Nothing else explains the vastness of his understanding.’

Booksellers on Signs Preceding the End of the World

'A dazzling little thing, containing so much more than the width of its spine should allow. I am in awe-filled love with its heroine: Makina is a vibrantly real presence in a shadowy world of constant threat; her voice perfectly rendered; her unflappable poise tested, but never broken.' Gayle Lazda, London Review Bookshop, London
If you start highlighting what stuns you about Signs Preceding the End of the World, Yuri Herrera’s debut novel in English, every page will be mottled with fluorescent lines. Herrera writes in prose that feels like you are standing on both sides of the uncanny valley while something beautiful happens below and above you, creating a delectable unease, cut through with the simple joy of precise and surprising images. Herrera will draw the obvious comparisons to Roberto Bolaño, but Signs Preceding the End of World should also find a home next to Jesse Ball and Italo Calvino.' Josh Cook, Porter Square Books, Boston, and author of An Exaggerated Murder
Herrera gives us what all great literature should—poetic empathy for dire situations in a life more complex and dynamic than we imagined. And Other Stories gives us what all publishers should—access to this world. I always want more.' Lance Edmonds, Posman Books (Chelsea Market branch), New York, NY
Several things occurred while I read Signs Preceding the End of the World by Yuri Herrera: I didn’t stop talking about it to other book people. When I finished it, I immediately flipped back to the beginning. And then, while waiting for the train, a bird pooped on me. I could go into the beautiful sentences, the structure, or the imagery. But really, a bird pooped on me – right on the shoulder, in the most obvious place – and I didn’t even notice until I put the book down.' Jess Marquardt, Greenlight, Brooklyn, NY
'Yuri Herrera's Signs Preceding the End of the World is a lyrical border crossing with touches of Kafka.' Alexander Dwinell, Unnameable Books, Brooklyn, NY
This book pulled me out of my little life into one altogether unfamiliar and absorbing – with the help of its bulletproof heroine, it explores what happens to people and languages when they cross borders, and recreates these new linguistic worlds in the translation without affectation. I am glad it made it over the Rio Grande and onto my shelf.' Georgia Newman, Foyles (Charing Cross Road branch), London
What begins as an odyssey is steered into profound allegory depicting the burdens we are willing to shoulder for family and the prospect of a life we never asked for.'Mark J Walker, Waterstones (High Wycombe branch), High Wycombe