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The Transmigration of Bodies

3.72  ·  Rating details ·  2,038 ratings  ·  281 reviews
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 citys underbelly to arrange for the exchange of the bodies they hold hostage.

Yuri Herreras novel is a response to the
Kindle Edition, 112 pages
Published July 7th 2016 by And Other Stories (first published October 1st 2013)
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Average rating 3.72  · 
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 ·  2,038 ratings  ·  281 reviews

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Aug 26, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: mexico, crime, noir, pandemic
These days we walk past a body on the street, and we have to stop pretending we cant see it.

A plague has overtaken an unnamed city when The Redeemer--a hero with a hardness to rival any hard-boiled noir protagonist coupled with a philosophical soft-spot for humanity--is called to broker the exchange of kidnapped children from rival crime families. The Transmigration of Bodies by Yuri Herrera (translated by Lisa Dillman) is a tight little noir with a lot of power and heart. It is as if Herrera
Aug 30, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Despite what Ive read on the internet to the contrary, this novella was written before Signs Preceding the End of the World but translated into English after the latter. Its not the work of genius Signs Preceding the End of the World is, but its still exceptional, carrying us into a gritty underworld with interesting language in the matter of only 100 pages. Its trappings are noir but, for me, thats not the appeal.

Metempsychosis, the transmigration of souls, is what the title evokes, but bodies
Book Riot Community
Id recommend this book for the nicknames alone: The Redeemer, Romeo, Neanderthal, Three Times Blonde and (my favorite) The Unruly. Every character gets one because why the hell not? And what Yuri Herrera calls his characters is just one of the many details that had me falling hard for this book. A deadly disease, transmitted by mosquitoes, has the city under siege. The protagonist, known as The Redeemer, has been summoned by a local crime boss, a.k.a. the Dolphin, to arrange a hostage exchange. ...more
3.5 stars.

This book was kindly sent to me by the publisher after I requested it for review. All opinions are my own.

This was my first Herrera book, and it certainly won't be my last. In The Transmigration of Bodies, we follow a couple of days in the life of The Redeemer, caught in the middle of two feuding families who each possess a body belonging to the other. His job is to make the trade.

I don't think I have read any hard-boiled crime fiction not set in America, so this look into the
Jul 20, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: translated
This is quite different than the other Herrera novel, [books: Signs Preceding the End of the World], that I read a few years ago. I remember really liking the atmosphere of that story, which is definitely continued here, but subject-wise they are vastly different. This one is more of a classic noir, containing all the tropes that come with that, both good and bad. For only a 100-page novel, it has quite a few explicit sex scenes that seemed to take up a good portion of the story; tbh I could've ...more
Matthew Quann
I found this pretty difficult to follow, and vacillated between enjoying and hating the prose. Nonetheless, I trudged on--mostly for the writing--so I guess Herrera's style grew on me by novella's end! This is a sort of noir about two rival crime families in Mexico during the outbreak of an infectious disease where everyone is wearing a mask. It's more than a little strange, but our lead, The Redeemer, is a a compelling booze-soaked former lawyer who interacts with some cool characters and has a ...more
Jul 23, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: poc-author
Might be closer to a 3.5 stars, but still a great reading experience
Oct 22, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition

The review in the Guardian described The Transmigration of Bodies as "nine parts noir to one part post-apocalypse fantasy". I tend to agree. Of course, that one part is to do with the unnamed sickness. The problem is that in 2020 it hits at least as hard as the other nine parts. If not harder, frankly. It was a weird reading experience. I don't know how much of that is due to Herrera's book, and how much due to the general apocalypse that is this never-ending hellhole of a year. Anyway,
Feb 18, 2017 rated it did not like it
Even though it is still very early in 2017, this will most probably be the worst book I read this year, it really ticks every box:

The characters are so uninteresting. flat and generic that they don't even have their own names. Seriously, just -gang-type- nicknames. The protagonist is no exception: a tough-guy, underworld-type that sometime gets laid. That is his most defining characteristic throughout the book. Sometimes he will blurt out some pretentious quotes that sound as cheesy as mature
Oct 17, 2020 rated it liked it
Recommended to Jonfaith by: s.penkevich
A hard boiled tale of a pandemic where a face mask is as essential to a private dick as a left cross and a Teflon liver. Set in a hallucinational Mexico a fixer stumbles awake to find the world has been broken. He is named the Redeemer, which suggests some divine underpinning, something almost absurd in these circumstances. After satisfying most of the his genre requirements he is presented with his task. The execution thereof is laced with the expected levels of violence and decadence. It is ...more
Jul 02, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, translation
the second of yuri herrera's novels to be translated into english (after the best translated book award-winning signs preceding the end of the world), the transmigration of bodies (la transmigración de los cuerpos) is a noirish tale set amid a nascent, (presumably) mosquito-borne epidemic. concerning the deaths of two youngsters from opposing families, the mexican novelist's newest book offers a nod to the bard, while capturing the essence of pervasive violence and a city on the precipice of ...more
A post-apocalyptic setting in a big city. There is a virus that is killing people and everyone is told to shelter in place.

Our narrator, The Redeemer, is growing antsy in his apartment, but soon is given a task. His task is complicated by two warring families that he finds himself trying to navigate in order to complete said task.

I don't want to give away elements of the story, because I think you need to gain understanding organically as the plot unfolds.

I like Herrera's use of language. Even
Noir crime novel with reference to Romeo and Juliet and dystopian fiction. Quite witty. Herrera managed to pack into this tiny novel a lot, using intelligently every page of the book - nicknames carrying more depth than 2 pages characterisation in other books often do. What he didn't do, at least failed with me was to evoke any emotions, I was hooked for the first 2 dozen pages and then when Romeo and Juliet part started I was just pushing to the end.... Hence - OK.
Jun 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Loved it. Short and sweet noir. Not as postmodern as Signs Preceding the End of the World but I really enjoyed it. I need to learn Spanish so I can read the rest of Herrera's work.
Samuel Gordon
Oct 25, 2016 rated it really liked it
A short entertaining read. Impressive world-building for a dystopian novel under 90 pages. Off to reading Signs Preceding the End of the World next.
Aug 12, 2019 rated it liked it
A pacy novella, a dystopianish Chandleresque pastiche, set in an unnamed town where a mysterious mosquito-born illness is killing people. Doors are locked, streets are deserted, and theres a run on face masks. In the midst of this, The Redeemer, a local fixer, is called on to deal with a dispute between two families who have each taken a young person from the other family. Super atmospheric and the Chandler influence is strong. A bit macho for my taste - I can take that better in something ...more
Aug 02, 2016 rated it really liked it
Show, don't tell, caution innumerable texts on writing, as if great writing were really all that simple. What does that mantra even mean? A reader seeking to explore the concept might do well to look at THE TRANSMIGRATION OF BODIES. Herrera shows desolation in dozens of ways.

The viewpoint of the narrative is that of an initially unnamed character (later referred to as The Redeemer). That anonymity promotes a sense of disembodiment. The lines between sleep and wakefulness are blurred by the slow
Nancy Oakes
Another beautiful book by Yuri Herrera, the second of a planned trilogy. I hope the third is translated and published very soon -- I love this writer's work.

In The Transmigration of Bodies, a man known as The Redeemer acts a go-between to ensure the safe exchange of the bodies of two young people, in order to return them to their families. His other task while doing so is to try to fix things so that there is little if any blowback from either side because of these deaths. This is what he does:
Leah Bayer
Jan 07, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: in-translation
3.5 stars

This slim volume is absolutely packed with amazing elements. It's a noir-inspired novel (novella?) about a go-between for two rival gangs. There are elements of Romeo & Juliet, and it's set in Mexico during what seems to be a plague. It's a violent, almost apocalyptic tale about family, grief, and loyalty.

The writing is fantastic. There are no quotation marks for speech, so you get sucked into the world immediately. It's a brutal book, but also a hilarious one: our narrator is quite
Peter McCambridge
Jun 26, 2016 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I actively dislike(d) this book. It would be much better if the author and translator were being half as clever and innovative as they both seem to think they are. So they write "tho" instead of "though." Hold the front page. "Me and my bro" is used unironically and then quickly followed up by one of the characters saying he carries condoms because "From time to time there occurs a miracle." I realize shifting registers is all part of the game, but when did you ever hear someone saying "there ...more
4.5 stars

This is probably the most exciting book I've read all year. Brilliantly written, breathlessly paced, and full of fresh characters and fascinating takes on old archetypes, this tiny story really packs a punch. I read it in a couple of hours, then I read it all over again. While I could nitpick over the beginning (a little too lackadaisical and slightly unfocused), in a story this short and this sharp, nitpicking seems kind of pointless.

21st century Mexican literature is amazing and Yuri
Mar 30, 2020 rated it it was amazing
A post-apocalyptic novel that retells Dashiell Hammetts Red Harvest by setting it in an unnamed, dusty, plague-stricken border town run by two competing crime families. Not only was I blown away by Herreras blending of allegory with all-too-real realities, but I was also totally sold by his pulp sensibility (especially his obvious attachments to hard-boiled detective fiction and Spaghetti westerns).

Despite its indebtedness to pulp fiction, this novel leans much more toward Cormac McCarthy than
Kelby Losack
May 09, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Pandemic-adjacent literature that is punchy and darkly funny and would feel absurd if it wasn't so immediately relatable.
Oct 10, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The blurb describes The Transmigration of Bodies very well, so the plot hardly needs restating. Rather than bodies, though, the aspect I found most fascinating was the treatment of names. Nicknames seemed to be powerful signifiers, as well as providing a visual shorthand for each character. Notably, the most humane character is known as Vicky, whilst most others are labelled as the Unruly, the Redeemer, and the Neeyanderthal, for example. Herreras writing style is as spare and steely as I found ...more
Marc Nash
Aug 04, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Not as lyrical as Signs Preceding the End of the World but no less a triumph of writing. A fixer in a small town solves problems, makes fines disappear. Here he has to unravel a tragedy of errors whereby children of two rival families both end up dead and in possession of the rival family. Taut, engrossing and the occasional epigram neatly offering an insight into the human soul. Read in one sitting, wonderful stuff.
Mar 20, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I'll give this 4.5 stars only because it is just a notch below "Signs". But it is a fine and gritty, literary noir -- some fabulous sentences -- occasionally, with a just a hint of tin in it...
Jessica Haider
Apr 21, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction, mystery
A pandemic has overtaken a Mexican city. Two feuding crime families, the Castros and the Fonsecas, each wind up in the possession of a dead body from the other family. The Redeemer (our protaganist), a go-between, works with the two families for them to peacefully make the exchange. In the meantime, The Redeemer, works to advance his own sex life and survive unscathed the mysterious illness that is going around. This novella is a sort of noir/mystery/pandemic mashup.

I will definitely check out
Şafak Tahmaz
Jan 06, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Wow. I never imagined that a book which can be classified as a modest piece of underground literature may appeal to those who seek a taste of high level writing, but Transformation of Bodies manages that! It is a very quick, strangely apocaliptic, fragmental narco-noir with a sense of integrity and vivid characters, and I can't wait to read his first novel!
Jun 11, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Following in the tradition of Sam Spade, Philip Marlowe, and Guy Noir, Yuri Herrera's THE TRANSMIGRATION OF BODIES creates a world in which a hard-boiled detective searches the mean streets to solve crimes. In this case, there are two rival crime families -the Castros and the Fonsecas- who each have a missing child. Each suspects that the other family is to blame, and the detective known as the Redeemer is called into action to figure out what happened. In actuality, the Redeemer is a "fixer", ...more
Andy Weston
Mar 16, 2017 rated it really liked it
In a parody of war, specifically gang related, Herrera's novella is a statement on the pointlessness of it all. It is set in the new future in the midst of a plague that has brought much death to an unnamed Mexican city. Two feuding families each have a body that belongs to the other, and a mediator attempts to get them to exchange. As the violence continues the plague claims more and more victims.

The novella is an important social commentary on the situation in many cities. As a novella it is
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Born in Actopan, Mexico, in 1970, Yuri Herrera studied Politics in Mexico, Creative Writing in El Paso and took his PhD in literature at Berkeley. His first novel to appear in English, Signs Preceding the End of the World, was published to great critical acclaim in 2015 and included in many Best-of-Year lists, including The Guardians Best Fiction and NBC Newss Ten Great Latino Books, going on to ...more

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