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The Transmigration of Bodies

3.74  ·  Rating details ·  1,686 ratings  ·  230 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.
Yuri Herrera’s novel, a response to the violence of contemporary Mexico with echoes of Romeo and Juliet, Bolaño and Chandler, is a noirish tragedy and a tribute to the bodies that violence touches.
Kindle Edition, 112 pages
Published July 7th 2016 by And Other Stories (first published October 1st 2013)
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Average rating 3.74  · 
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Aug 30, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Despite what I’ve 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. It’s not the work of genius Signs Preceding the End of the World is, but it’s 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, that’s not the appeal.

Metempsychosis, the transmigration of souls, is what the title evokes, but
Book Riot Community
I’d 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 ...more
Jul 20, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: translated, 2019
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
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 23, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: poc-author
Might be closer to a 3.5 stars, but still a great reading experience
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
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
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
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 there’s 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
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...
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
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.
Oct 21, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: read-in-2017
3.5 stars. Noir, set in Mexico, with black comedic relief and prose that crackles from time to time. The central plot revolves around a fixer named The Redeemer (all the characters go by cool nicknames); he arranges for the exchange of two bodies held hostage by two opposing crime families. I would've liked, though, to hear more about the mysterious plague afflicting the area. A good book, but it doesn't compare (how could it?) to Herrera's superb novella, Signs Preceding the End of the World, ...more
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
Nov 23, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
“He was hungry as hell. And thirsty. But all there was was rankystank water in a few puddles on the path and those dense gray clouds that refused to squeeze out a drop. A synthetic insanity to the weather, the city, the people, all sulking, all plotting who-knows-what”

The Transmigration of Bodies is a novella by award-winning Mexican author, Yuri Herrera. A plague has laid waste the city, the streets are empty, and the Redeemer is wary about leaving his apartment. His neighbours, too, are
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. Herrera’s writing style is as spare and steely as I ...more
Jan 25, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Another winner from Herrera--I think I may actually like this one more than Signs Preceding the End of the World. Loved the atmosphere, the allusions to Romeo & Juliet, the gritty noir vibes. As with Signs, this book is deceptively short but filled with layers. Characters have names like "Dolphin", "Three Times Blonde" and "The Unruly" and the parallels Herrera paints between The Transmigration of Bodies with modern day Mexico is well done. I eagerly await his next release. 4/5
Kurt Kemmerer
Sep 22, 2016 rated it really liked it
A fantastically crafted novella, a tale aimed at dealing with the grief of modern Mexico, but, as is often the case, the story connects to both the greater world and that of the individual reader.
Oct 13, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I find it very hard to review Yuri Herrera's books. They are seemingly about everything and nothing at all. Sure, there's a storyline the plot follows, but at the same time, it's about life in general. This one's about the life of a fixer-type fella during a national epidemic (!), with some weird Romeo and Juliet (but not really) vibes. I mean, it's almost an apocalypse and this guy's trying to get laid, and maybe solve a decades long feud at the same time. Ya know, no biggie. Like, maybe he's ...more
Sep 21, 2017 rated it liked it
Short little noir where a disease is ravaging the city and some sketchy dudes are trying to locate a body for a family.
May 15, 2018 rated it liked it
3.5 this is a Novella, translated from Spanish, that takes place in an almost-apocalyptic Mexican city. The main character “fixes” people’s problems and there are a whole host of weird nicknames and grimy characters.
Robin J
Jul 15, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Striking a blow against the Luhrmann-zation of classic literature, Yuri Herrera's take on Romeo and Juliet is Mexican noir--gritty and dark, set during a mosquito-borne plague in an unnamed Mexican city. Is Mexican noir even a thing? Herrera makes me miss all the books that should have written in this style.
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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).
“Todo lo bueno es un pedazo de algo horrible.” 2 likes
“Better to scratch the wound than bandage it: those who lose a child shouldn't be consoled; parents die to make room for their kids, not the other way around. He wasn't being cruel, he just thought a gash that deep had to be respected, not swaddled over with cuddles.” 1 likes
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