Yuri Herrera's Signs Preceding the End of the World (translated from Spanish by Lisa Dillman) is a strange and dreamlike narrative: the noir tale of a Mexico-U.S. border-crossing, and a novel of mythic proportions contained within a hundred-odd pages. At its center is the steely and cynical Makina, a young woman whose job as a telephone operator makes her a translator of sorts in the small Mexican town where everybody has somebody "up north.” Beginning quite literally with the ground opening up beneath her feet, Makina undertakes a perilous journey to find her lost brother and reclaim a promised piece of America. The narrative--at once precarious, contested, and darkly funny--comments on difficult contemporary questions of borders, migration, and sexual violence in a language that is as delightful as it is ingenious.
In this interview with Avni Sejpal, Yuri Herrera delves into the experience of crossing the Mexico/US border, with particular attention to the different challenges women face while navigating these boundaries. With excerpts included, Herrera explores his use own of language while describing the transience of memory and the challenge of translation.
Avni Sejpal is a writer and editor at a New York-based nonprofit. Twitter @RaniOfCoochNahi