Heralded as one of Mexico’s greatest novelists, Signs Preceding the End of the World is the first evidence British readers have been given to evaluate just how good a writer Yuri Herrera is. And on the strength of this first book it’s probably fair to say that the jury is still out.
Signs Preceding the End of the World is slim by anyone’s standards, clocking in at just over 100 pages, and concerns Makina, a young woman crossing the border in search of her brother who has apparently gone missing. Over the course of nine relatively short chapters, we follow her as she attempts to engage with various crime bosses, seeking their support to cross, and then follow the journey itself which at times veers into Bolano territory, to the extent that you sometimes wonder is this an actual journey or a metaphysical one (the answer is probably a bit of both).
Makina is an engaging heroine (a little reminiscent of Ice Cream Star) and the writing itself is punchy and muscular (this is a book you could imagine doing a hundred pull ups without breaking a sweat); and yet, at the same time, the destination is not quite worth the journey. The reader is left wanting more. It’s all a bit ‘oh, are we here now?’
Any Cop?: If we consider Signs Preceding the End of the World a starter for a larger meal of Herrera’s talents, we would certainly be interested in further nibbles. As a standalone meal, our tummies were left grumbling somewhat…