‘The Transmigration of Bodies’ by Yuri Herrera

The Transmigration of Bodies book cover The title of The Transmigration of Bodies by Yuri Herrera is a neat joke that the reader will latch on to as they work their way through this novella [High Wycombe: & Other Stories, 2016, translated by Lisa Dellman]. It’s a short book and worth reading despite it being another sort of apocalyptic vision like we found in his earlier Signs Preceding the End of the World that I rated very highly in my review.

As well as the narrator, known as The Redeemer, who seems to be a small-time legal fixer operating in a present day Mexican town that has been struck by a fairly lethal plague, there is a cast list of fascinating characters including Three Times Blonde, Angelface, Dolphin, Neeyanderthal, La Ñora and Baby Girl. For such a grim story it is full of wit and not a little humour. It concerns the playing out of an inter-family feud against the backdrop of empty streets apart from the military and funerals as everyone tries to avoid human contact and catching the ‘plague’. But it should not surprise us how other basic human instincts still manage to rear their ugly heads.

The tale is recounted in sparkling contemporary street language brilliantly translated by Lisa Dellman that drives the story along at a cracking pace. Without novelists like Herrera we might never go where he takes us.   Very much in the tradition of The Power and the Glory. Read both!

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