cover image Kingdom Cons

Kingdom Cons

Yuri Herrera, trans. from the Spanish by Lisa Dillman. And Other Stories (Consortium, dist.), $13.95 trade paper (112p) ISBN 978-1-908276-92-6

The relationship between art and violence is at the core of Herrera’s (The Transmigration of Bodies) slim yet powerful novel about the various members of a drug-trafficking ring in an unnamed territory allegorically aligned with northern Mexico. A young man named Lobo, having become a street performer after being abandoned by his parents, impresses a local narco boss—a man known to him only as the King—while singing at a cantina, and he subsequently stumbles into a life of danger and excess that he never before could have imagined for himself. Newly ingratiated into the King’s court, Lobo, now known as “the Artist,” writes and performs ballads about the King’s accomplishments and conquests, much like a medieval courtier, while also pursuing romance with the daughter of a woman close to him. Strikingly beautiful and thematically rich passages are followed by scenes of gritty realism, as members of the court are mysteriously killed and warfare ultimately breaks out with other local factions. During his time at court, the Artist will learn lessons about love, loyalty, and how to navigate complex power structures while still remaining true to himself. The novel is a powerful and memorable meditation on the social and economic value of art in a world ruled by the pursuit of power. (June)