Review: Signs Preceding the End of the World – Yuri Herrera

28 - Signs Preceding the End of the World

Rating – 3*

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!

Purchase on The Book Depository

Brave New Reads 2016

Today I am bringing you something different – an BNRintroduction to Brave New Reads 2016!

Brave New Reads is a reading scheme which takes place across Norfolk, Suffolk and Cambridgeshire. A shortlist of 6 books was picked from an initial 120 books, by over 100 readers across East Anglia. There is little to nothing which connects these books aside from their generally amazing calibre, and status a chronically underhyped. It’s like a reading group, across the Summer there is going to be a number of events across East Anglia with the authors (including writing workshops). There is also an incredible online community, with podcasts and the like being available to those not able to get to events and, of course, Twitter (#BraveNewReads)! On the whole it’s an incredible project, and one quite fitting with Norwich being a UNESCO city of literature!

I personally became aware of the project last year, I’m from Norfolk and while the scheme as a whole has run for a number of years, last year they rebranded to Brave New Reads. That caught my eye. Unfortunately I didn’t read any of the books due to my own laziness. This year I’m going to endeavour to change this and I’m going to attempt to read all 6 books over the Summer months because they all sound incredible for different reasons, and one of them was actually already on my to-buy pile so that’s already a reason to shift it up the list!

So, the books are below and I have linked them all on goodreads:

They are so very diverse, some I’m more excited to pick up than others (simply because they’re more in my reading comfort zone!) So over the next few months expect to see these books pop up from time to time, I’m also hoping to get to a few events relating to the books too and will also be popping those up here all being well!

Finally, I just want to state that I am in no way affiliated with this scheme, I’m just a very excited to try something new and be a little brave with my reading! This is an incredible thing that the local libraries and reading groups put together, and I just really want to spread the word about it, because it’s pretty special. Norwich is one of the few UNESCO cities of literature in the world, the only one in England, and it’s the city at the heart of this scheme (and it’s my home, so I’m a little bit bias, but I think it has an amazing bookish community!).