23. ilb 06. – 16.09.2023
Portrait Yuri Herrera
© Hartwig Klappert

Yuri Herrera

Yuri Herrera Gutiérrez was born in Actopan, Mexico, in 1970. In 1997 he graduated in political science in Mexico City and in 2003 completed a degree in creative writing at the University of Texas at El Paso in the USA. This was followed by a doctorate in Hispanic language and literature at the University of California, Berkeley in 2009. He has held numerous teaching positions and guest professorships in Mexico, France and the United States, published stories, reports and articles including in the daily newspapers »El País«, »Reforma« and »La Jornada«, the magazines »El Malpensante« and »Letras Libres« and literary anthologies and was the founder and editor of the literary magazine »El Perro«.

In 2004 he published his debut novel, » Trabajos del reino« (tr. Works of the King). Lobo, the narrator, is a Corrido singer living near the US border. As he is adopted by a narco boss as a court entertainer, not only the brutality of the drug business but also the dependent relationship between artists and their patrons is revealed. »The prose is sober, hard, true and tastes like gunpowder, as Yuri fires with precision«, remarked Elena Poniatowska in »La Jornada«, comparing Herrera’s novel with works by Ricardo Piglia. His first success came with »Señales que precederán al fin del mundo« (2009; tr. Signs that the World is Coming to an End), a novel based on the Aztec myth of the descent into the underworld of Mictlan, which follows the young Makina undertaking a journey in nine chapters from her central Mexican village to the United States in search of her brother; a journey through the cultures, languages and myths of her country. In his third and most recent work, »La transmigración de los cuerpos« (2013; The Transmigration of the Bodies), Herrera locates the narrative in an unnamed city, where an epidemic has isolated the population. At the same time it is this state of emergency which brings together the protagonist, Alfaki with three blondes, turns him into an informer, an intermediary and a source of hope in the midst of disaster. Though originally not created as such, the three short novels which appear collected in German translation form a trilogy about current day Mexico. Herrera’s not only has his characters describe their world impressively in forceful language, but first creates this world in words characterised by cultural diversity.

Elmer Mendoza has written of him in »El Universal«, «Yuri Herrera is one of the most important voices of contemporary Mexican literature«. His work, including the children’s book «¡Este es mi nahual« (2007: tr. This is my Nahual), is widely translated and he has received several awards, including the Premio Binacional de Novela Joven Fronteras de Palabras (2003) and the Premio Otras Voces, Otros Ámbitos (2009). Currently Herrera teaches at Tulane University in New Orleans.


¡Éste es mi Nahual! Consejo Estatal para la Cultura y las Artes de Hidalgo Pachuca, Hidalgo, 2007 Abgesang des Königs S. Fischer Frankfurt a. M., 2011 [Ü: Susanne Lange]

Der König, die Sonne, der Tod Mexikanische Trilogie S. Fischer Frankfurt a. M., 2014 [Ü: Susanne Lange]