Yuri Hererra’s novel Signs Preceding the End of the World was an amazing piece of literature that even in its translated state, was still as captivating to it’s audience as if you had read the original thing itself. For me, it was like reading a pop-up book; the material was so raw, yet defined. As if the words themselves built upon this structure illustrating each and every scene. Much of the book itself was like moving your eyes across the panoramic view of a painting. The colors, texture, and fluidity all granulating into the “big picture”. For me, the big picture was a contrast between two competing elements, Mexico and the United States.
It is certainly fair to say that Makina had less than enthusiastic thoughts about crossing the boarder into U.S. territory. A very cynical perspective of it’s reality deeply rooted in the colonial oppression of the past and the geopolitical sentiment of the present. Describing the nature of their relationship would be to paint a picture that contrasts two very distinctive, but restrictive, elements that evoke very different emotions in it’s viewer. For that is what Hererra does is to give us a look through the lens of a Mexican immigrant crossing the American border.
She describes her town as “bland”, “pale”, and “riddled with bullets”, which is also a reference to the scars colonialism still has on their country to this very day. She goes on to associate the United States with “Pink houses”, “malls”, and “movies”. This is one of those pop-up images, like the light secreting into the dark. I visualize Utopian sky liners slicing perfectly symmetric slivers in the clouds that allow for the sun’s light to touch upon the mangled shacks and mines of suburbs they overshadow. A lot of what Makina is hinting at, in my opinion, is the dehumanization and humility that crossing the border involves. It’s damaging in many ways to ones character, in that it robs them of individualism and other qualities associated with being a fellow human being.
This novel was very vocal, political, and above all – eyeopening to the realities of immigration.