I imagine the musical soundtrack of Tomb Song to be comprised of jazz. Full of energy and chaos, emotional highs and lows, and wild unpredictability, this is a coming-of-age "novel" like you've never read before. Respect must go to Christina MacSweeney (award winning translator of Valeria Luiselli) for translating a seemingly irreproducible piece of writing into English. I look forward to reading more Julian Herbert!— From Kalani
“Julian Herbert's English-language debut is a stunner. Meshing memoir and essay, Tomb Song is the rough, darkly comic tale of a writer finding his voice while coming to terms with his mother dying. Switching between the past and the present, the author reflects on a childhood spent in poverty and a decade lost to drug use. A rare glimpse into the lower ranks of Mexican society without hyperbole or stereotypes of narco traffickers, Tomb Song is vibrant with humor, passion, and the realization of a family's profound importance.”
— Mark Haber, Brazos Bookstore, Houston, TX
An incandescent new voice from Mexico, for readers of Ben Lerner and Rachel Cusk
Sitting at the bedside of his mother as she is dying from leukemia in a hospital in northern Mexico, the narrator of Tomb Song is immersed in memories of his unstable boyhood and youth. His mother, Guadalupe, was a prostitute, and Juli n spent his childhood with his half brothers and sisters, each from a different father, moving from city to city and from one tough neighborhood to the next.
Swinging from the present to the past and back again, Tomb Song is not only an affecting coming-of-age story but also a searching and sometimes frenetic portrait of the artist. As he wanders the hospital, from its buzzing upper floors to the haunted depths of the morgue, Juli n tells fevered stories of his life as a writer, from a trip with his pregnant wife to a poetry festival in Berlin to a drug-fueled and possibly completely imagined trip to another festival in Cuba. Throughout, he portrays the margins of Mexican society as well as the attitudes, prejudices, contradictions, and occasionally absurd history of a country ravaged by corruption, violence, and dysfunction.
Inhabiting the fertile ground between fiction, memoir, and essay, Tomb Song is an electric prose performance, a kaleidoscopic, tender, and often darkly funny exploration of sex, love, and death. Juli n Herbert's English-language debut establishes him as one of the most audacious voices in contemporary letters.