Hello and Happy Sunday! Today, I will start with a short disclaimer, I’m finding this book very difficult to review and find the right words for. I picked it up for Brave New Reads 2016, and I’m very glad that it was pushed up my TBR because of that. I just find myself struggling to actually write about this novel(la). I think maybe it’s a book that you just have to experience for yourself!
Signs Preceding the End of the World follows a young woman, Makina, on her journey to find her brother, who crossed the Mexico-US border. Makina is a great protagonist, she’s intelligent, diligent and headstrong. In her village she works as a switchboard operator, able to speak both native language, ‘latin’ and ‘anglo’, she cares about this job and the people in the village when she’s tasked the job of crossing the border. She carries two messages on her journey, one from their mother and one from the Mexican gang leader who sent her brother across the border in the first place. The actual geography is never explicit, which is what makes this book feel almost ethereal, there are never any place names – instead she walks to the place where the hills meet and takes a bus to the place where the wind cuts like a knife. It adds a mythical quality to the book. It reminded me of the story of Persephone, on her journey to the underworld in Greek myth and I’ve seen that comparison pop up quite a lot.
This was an incredible translation by Lisa Dillman, however every time I read a book so wonderfully translated I really wish I could understand the original language. I found her note at the end of the book really quite enlightening in to her process, and I found it gave me a greater connection to the story itself. I feel that it was a very true translation, and it has all the key elements that the original had. It was a captivating book, and the translation was – as I said – incredible.
It was certainly a book which hit me, it was beautiful to read, but for me it felt like it was just lacking in a little something. Maybe I should have forced myself to stay awake and read it in one sitting, I don’t know, all I know is I don’t feel I got as much out of this book as others seemed to. I would urge people to try it, because it’s certainly a special book, and I will be reading the next book published by &Other Stories of the authors work because there was definitely something captivating about it!