8 September 17 | Kaija Straumanis

The latest addition to our Reviews section is a piece by Sarah Booker on Yuri Herrera’s Kingdom Cons, published by And Other Stories.

Sarah Booker is a Spanish-to-English translator and doctoral student at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. Her translation of Cristina Rivera Garza’s The Iliac Crest will be published with the Feminist Press in October, 2017.

Here’s the beginning of her review:

Yuri Herrera is overwhelming in the way that he sucks readers into his worlds, transporting them to a borderland that is at once mythical in its construction and powerfully recognizable as a reflection of its modern-day counterpart. Kingdom Cons, originally published in Spanish in 2004 and translated by Lisa Dillman, is Herrera’s third novel to be published in English (though the first he wrote in Spanish) and it completes his loosely-connected triptych of border novels. In his other novels, Signs Preceding the End of the World (2015) and The Transmigration of Bodies (2016), Herrera tackles the experience of crossing the border, the conflicts between crime families, and the effects of disease within the context of the US/Mexico border. Taking on the upper echelons of narco-culture in this text, Kingdom Cons examines the possibilities of language, artistic creation, and the construction of power in a way that feels staggeringly contemporary and necessary.

Herrera’s writing can perhaps best be characterized by the ways that he blends myth and reality. In Kingdom Cons, a drug lord becomes a King, his cartel is depicted as his court, and his palatial residence is transformed into his kingdom. This structure can partly be explained by the author’s writing approach; in an interview published in “Latin American Literature Today”: http://www.latinamericanliteraturetoday.org/en/2017/april/literature-political-responsibility-interview-yuri-herrera-radmila-stefkova-and-rodrigo, Herrera explains that he writes lists of words that he will not use (such as Mexico, United States, border, drugs, and narco-trafficking) as a way of avoiding clichés, but this also means that his writing takes on a more mythical feeling as it is distanced from the specific culture depicted. While it clearly engages with the genre, Kingdom Cons is not a narco-novela because of this approach and the underlying critique of narco-culture that is embedded in the novel.


For the rest of the review, go here.


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