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Señales que precederán al fin del mundo

3.92  ·  Rating details ·  6,239 ratings  ·  847 reviews
Señales que precederán al fin del mundo es, sin duda, una de las novelas más singulares de entre todas las que se han escrito en español en este cambio de siglo. Y también una de las más bellas y precisas. Como ya sucedía en su anterior novela: Trabajos del reino, Yuri Herrera no escribe «simplemente» sobre México y la frontera, sino que crea su México a través de historia ...more
Paperback, Largo Recorrido, 128 pages
Published September 1st 2010 by Periferica (first published 2009)
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Carlos de Gois By context, I thought it meant "to cross" or "to traverse", and in other places "to leave", or "to exit". Also, it seemed to not accidentally read…moreBy context, I thought it meant "to cross" or "to traverse", and in other places "to leave", or "to exit". Also, it seemed to not accidentally read like a noun referring to "a verse" of poetry.

I later learned from the translator's note that this was translated from a neologism. Yuri used the word "jarchar" in the Spanish original. It also sounds like moving, and also is only understandable by context. The word derives from the Arabic "kharja", which literally means exit. Kharjas were short verses written in vernacular Mozarabic and attached to the end of Arabic poems, "to serve as a bridge between cultures and languages".

What I think is most beautiful is that you mustn't know any of this to realize that "to verse" meant exactly "to cross" and "to bridge through language". As crossing is readily seen in her actions, and bridging people in her intentions.(less)
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3.92  · 
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 ·  6,239 ratings  ·  847 reviews


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s.penkevich
Aug 02, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Let's make a brighter future
You are a door, not the one who walks through.

The setting sun, ‘like a giant pool of drying blood’, casts lengthy human shaped shadows along the mountainside that bridges the past to the future, the old to the new, the dying to the living. Behold the great transmigration of souls, the hopeful and damned stripped of all but necessity slouching towards a nightmare of turmoil. One can only hope the storm clouds part upon a fresh world built on the sturdy bricks of the past and the bones of ancestor
...more
Seemita
Aug 03, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Those who stand up after every fall
As a little girl, I had many fears. Born from reasonable and not-so-reasonable wombs of circumstances, I consciously (and consistently) fought their penetrating presence by erecting walls of logic and fortitude. With passing years, I saw many of them surrendering and receding into thin smoke, leaving me a fertile air concomitant of a progressive upbringing.

But some fears continue to seethe within the subdued bark of emotions like its ashen cousin in an extinguished bonfire: time and again, an u
...more
Maxwell
Jan 06, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: kindle, translated, 2016
This is quite a powerful, short novel. Dealing with borders, both literal and figurative, Yuri Herrera's Signs Preceding the End of the World crosses back and forth between reality and myth. It has epic proportions but feels intimate. Makina, our main character, is taking a journey--as so many protagonists do--but hers feels fresh, exciting, and harrowing. It deals with a surprising amount of topics & themes in such few pages, and Herrera masterfully handles the prose. I only wish it had bee ...more
BlackOxford
We the Barbarians

Here are the headlines about immigration for the benefit of the border patrol and the nativists to consider: We want to be here less than you want us here, even though here was ours before it was yours. We don’t want to be like you. We want to get back before we resemble you too much to go home. You have no idea of the “the weariness we feel at the monuments of another history.” But we’re much tougher than you are.

You make drugs illegal, the price goes up and the trade gets rea
...more
Hugh
Apr 29, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I read this short but powerful and poetic novella because it has been chosen for a group read by the 21st Century Literature group.

The story tells of a young Mexican woman Makina, who travels across the border illegally in search of her brother. In order to do this she has to deal with various criminal gangs. This is just the start, and she meets a number of challenges, and remains a feisty but sympathetic heroine. As such she represents various universal truths of the migrant experience and ex
...more
MJ Nicholls
Sometimes us readers find ourselves drowning in superlatives, in the fawning pith clipped to the front and back and inside pages of new literature, forcing us to retreat into the hallowed recesses of the Buried Book Club, sniffing for unpraised truffles amid the chaff, and in most cases these superlatives raise our expectations to ludicrous levels before the cover has been admired or the blurb has been scanned, causing outrage at the over-pumped words that writers and critics are obligated to do ...more
Teresa
Jan 10, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
While this is a wonderful translation, I’m sure this novella works even better in its original Spanish. Language is one of its themes—native versus latin versus anglo versus a new hybrid tongue—reminding me of Elena Ferrante in that one respect only. It’s a deceptively simple work with Dantean and Greek mythological undertones, and I’m guessing other currents I’m not familiar with.

Not wanting to put it down, I read it in one night and feeling unsettled upon finishing, I immediately reread the f
...more
Alienor ✘ French Frowner ✘
"Things are tough all over, but here I'm all mixed up, I just don't understand this place.
Don't let it get you down. They don't understand it either, they live in fear of the lights going out, as if every day wasn't already made of lightning and backouts. They need us."

3.5 stars. Signs Preceding the End of the World reads like an atmospheric and - at times - very powerful tale whose splendid bits fight with its quieter ones, more fuzzy, that unfortunately lost me a little along the way. It se
...more
Warwick
May 17, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A stark, stylish novella which reads like a modern Mexican katabasis – a descent into the underworld that is also a journey over the border into the US. Herrera's prose style and his narrative framing (the story begins with a sinkhole opening in a Mexican village, and ends with a charged descent into a basement) invite mythic comparisons, with our protagonist Makina like a supercool latter-day Ishtar, who travelled to see her sister in hell, removing one item of clothing at each of the seven gat ...more
Edwin Cruz
Apr 17, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Beware, there are some spoilers here.

In Aztec mythology, when Quetzalcoatl descends into the "land of the dead" (the underworld) his goal is to return the bones of ancestors to Earth to restore humanity. Towards the end of his journey, Mictlantecuhtli, the God of the underworld, sets a pit as a trap for Quetzalcoatl to fall into to prevent him from leaving the underworld. Signs Preceding the End of the World by Yuri Herrera begins with our protagonist, Makina, a contemporary Quetzalcoatl (who sp
...more
Hadrian
Apr 21, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, mexico
They speak an intermediary tongue that Makina instantly warms to because it’s like her: malleable, erasable, permeable; a hinge pivoting between like but distant souls, and then two more, and then two more, never exactly the same ones; something that serves as a link. More than the midpoint between homegrown and anglo their tongue is a nebulous territory between what is dying out and what is not yet born.

Short, intense, psychologically rich, drenched in religious allegory, toying with language,
...more
Trish
Jun 08, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Trish by: Tuck
In a few pages we discover a new kind of language: "an intermediary tongue that Makina instantly warms to…malleable, erasable, permeable…something that serves as a link." It is not latin, nor anglo but in a "nebulous territory between what is dying out and what is not yet born."

Herrera immerses us in a cross-border search for a lost brother, not heard of or heard from for too long. Makina, the sister, goes to find him, and does--but "only when [she’d] stopped looking." The journey should be terr
...more
Jenny (Reading Envy)
I was headed out of the public library one day, having already checked out the book that came in on hold for me. I caught this book cover out of the corner of my eye and reversed my steps to pick it up. It is striking and the title sounded up my alley. Even when I realized it was not really a post-apocalyptic tale and more about border crossings between Mexico and the United States, I decided it was worth a shot. The book is slim, the chapters are short, and I had never heard of the author.

This
...more
Antonomasia
[4.5] There have been a lot of good reviews for this lately, yet the book took me by surprise. Presumably it was another serious, lyrical translated novella; I opened a story easily imagined as a graphic novel: basically realist with occasional undertones of the fantastical; a plausibly badass Mexican chick goes on a northbound quest to find her brother, who disappeared to the US chasing a possibly-scammy tale of inherited land.

Makina ran the switchboard with the only phone for miles and miles a
...more
✨    jamieson   ✨
I'm dead Makina said to herself when everything lurched: a man with a cane was crossing the street, a dull groan suddenly surged through the asphalt, the man stood still as if waiting for someone to repeat the question and then the earth opened up beneath his feet: it swallowed the man, and with him a car and a dog, all the oxygen around and even the screams of passers-by. I'm dead


Signs Preceding the End of the World is such a short book, but the story and the epic journey of the main characte
...more
Nancy Oakes
I say in my journal entry about this novel and about The Transmigration of Bodies that if I was ever going to consider becoming a writer (which I'm not, because I couldn't write my way out of a box), I'd want to model myself after Yuri Herrera. He has managed to deliver a beyond-powerful story here in just 107 pages (the rest is taken up by the translator's notes) by keeping his prose sparse and through a unique, beautifully-crafted use of language. Both books are excellent; neither needs any f ...more
Lark Benobi
what a strange, wonderful, mystical, heartbreaking, ultimately redemptive book. It was unusual serendipitous timing to read this novel immediately following Oreo. Both are quest novels about a young woman making her way confidently and fearlessly through a world of men, many of whom wish to do her harm, and yet the young woman prevails, she triumphs, she finds a way to be fully alive and fully happy. I realized while reading Oreo how few novels I've read where a young woman has such complete age ...more
Roy Lotz
I was pleasantly surprised by this book—one chosen by my book club—partially because I didn’t know a thing about it when I opened it up. The description of this work calls it a “novel,” but it is short even for a novella. It’s easily possible to get through this in two hours.

As one might expect of a book this short, the plot is simple: a Mexican woman illegally crosses the border in search of her brother. The main appeal is thus the style, which I thought demonstrated considerable skill. At tim
...more
Viv JM
I picked this book up on impulse, because I loved the cover and the title!

I thought it was linguistically very interesting (and the translators notes added to that interest), and I liked the protagonist, Makina. She was very smart. I don't know if it was just because of its short length, but I didn't really feel any emotional connection to the story, hence the 3 star rating.
Neil
Dec 02, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016, 5-stars, 2017
In my original review, I said this would be the shortest book I read that year (2016). It wasn't. But it is probably a contender for 2017. It's 128 pages but a quarter of that is a translator's note and a list of names of people who made the book possible.

But the pages that make up the story are more concentrated than most novels. It is amazing that someone can cover so much ground in so little time - not a word is wasted and layer piles upon layer as the story builds. This means that, in just a
...more
Anya
May 27, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
“Signs Preceding the End of the World” is a short and atmospheric novel about Makina, a young Mexican woman who treks across the Mexican-U.S. border to find her brother.

The novel is extremely short (comprising only 9 short chapters), but each chapter is extremely dense and well-crafted. Reading this novel, I almost felt as if I was walking alongside Makina and experiencing first-hand what it is like to cross the U.S. border and ‘live the life of an illegal’. As well, though we so often see illeg
...more
Marc
We use borders to define places and things, to satisfy that primal, individual neural dichotomy: on/off. Which can then become this/that, mine/yours, here/there... us/them. And when you get close to those borders all that looked black/white from a distance begins to blur grey. The dividing line placed arbitrarily, perhaps held on to out of tradition or fear. And the two sides defined by each other--there is no "us" without "them." And so Herrera brings us to the U.S.-Mexican border and forces us ...more
Kevin Fanning
Mar 25, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was so, so good. The text is so spare and precise but also so deep and impactful. It's only a few pages in, when you've met the protagonist, a switch-board operator named Makina, and you see that she is smart and powerful and cool as hell, and you don't know what her journey is about exactly, but you know that your heart is already tied to hers.

It's the story of a journey from Mexico to the States, but it's also a journey through the underworld. The chapters are short but the characters she
...more
Bjorn
May 04, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mexico
"The end of the uni-verse" (translator's note)

I read two excellent Mexican novels in 2015; Jennifer Clement's Prayers for the Stolen ; and this one. Both are similar, and yet very different; they both concern the border, the idea of different worlds, the violence of a male society ruled by guns and the knowledge that nobody dies peacefully of old age, and how women survive in it.

The difference: Clement writes (brilliantly) about a world which is, Herrera writes of one that becomes. It's a subje
...more
Anna
May 07, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, mexican-lit
I immediately fell in love with the opening sentence of ‘Signs Preceding the End of the World’:

I’m dead, Makina said to herself when everything lurched: a man with a cane was crossing the street, a dull groan suddenly surged through the asphalt, the man stood still as if waiting for someone to repeat the question and then the earth opened up beneath his feet: it swallowed the man, and with him a car and a dog, all the oxygen around and even the screams of passers-by.


Such a vivid image places you
...more
Bettie
Description: 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
...more
David Yoon
Feb 03, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I’m reminded of The Enchanted by Rene Denfeld. A gripping story told with all the trappings of a fairy tale. It’s a hero’s journey with shades of myth. Crossing the river, descending underground. While it’s clear Makina is coming to the US from Mexico it’s never made explicit. She instead walks to the place where the hills meet, takes a bus to the place where the wind cuts like a knife - she’s indistinctly placed and that lack of naming carries with it a dreamlike state.

The translation is beaut
...more
Doug
May 14, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Read in conjunction with the '21st Century Literature' group read-along, this book didn't really work well for me, and I think my main problem was both the simplistic language (and the use of the 'made-up' term 'verse' drove me crazy, until the translator's note somewhat explained it), and an equally simplistic narrative. While it was a quick and easy read, all the symbolic elements flew right over my head, and though some individual moments were mildly interesting, I never felt truly involved w ...more
Paul Fulcher
"Señales que precederán al fin del mundo" by Yuri Herrera was translated into English as "Signs Preceeding the End of the World" by Lisa Dillman, and published by And Other Stories, an independent UK publisher which relies on a subscription model.

The novel was deservedly shortlist for the 2016 Best Translated Book Awards. Although it's a book I enjoyed thinking about afterwards as much as, perhaps even more than, the, rather brief, process of actually reading it.

Interviews with the author were
...more
Kimbofo
May 25, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
At a time when the world seems increasingly more divided between people who are free to travel around the world, seemingly on a whim, and those who cannot, Yuri Herrera’s Signs Preceding the End of the World is a timely story about illegal border crossings and people smuggling.

This short, sharp and occasionally violent novella focuses on Makina, a young Mexican woman, who crosses the border between Mexico and the United States in search of her brother, who had gone there to “settle some business
...more
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275 followers
Yuri Herrera is a writer, teacher, and author of the award-winning novels Trabajos del reino (2004) and Señales que precederán al fin del mundo (2009).
“We are to blame for this destruction, we who don’t speak your tongue and don’t know how to keep quiet either. We who didn’t come by boat, who dirty up your doorsteps with our dust, who break your barbed wire. We who came to take your jobs, who dream of wiping your shit, who long to work all hours. We who fill your shiny clean streets with the smell of food, who brought you violence you’d never known, who deliver your dope, who deserve to be chained by neck and feet. We who are happy to die for you, what else could we do? We, the ones who are waiting for who knows what. We, the dark, the short, the greasy, the shifty, the fat, the anemic. We the barbarians.” 19 likes
“Nosotros somos los culpables de esta destrucción, los que no hablamos su lengua ni sabemos estar en silencio. Los que no llegamos en barco, los que ensuciamos de polvo sus portales, los que rompemos sus alambradas. Los que venimos a quitarles el trabajo, los que aspiramos a limpiar su mierda, los que anhelamos trabajar a deshoras. los que llenamos de olor a comida sus calles tan limpias, los que les trajimos violencia que no conocían, los que transportamos sus remedios, los que merecemos ser amarrados del cuello y los pies; nosotros, a los que no nos importa morir por ustedes, ¿cómo podía ser de otro modo? Los que quién sabe qué aguardamos. Nosotros los oscuros, los chaparros, los grasientos, los mustios, los obesos, los anémicos. Nosotros, los bárbaros.” 7 likes
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