The alert was first raised at six in the morning: a fire was tearing through the El Bordo mine. After a brief evacuation, the mouths of the shafts were sealed. Company representatives hastened to assert that "no more than ten" men remained inside the mineshafts, and that all ten were most certainly dead. Yet when the mine was opened six days later, the death toll was not ten, but eighty-seven. And there were seven survivors.
...underscores the need to defend workers against corporate greed, the devaluation of individual lives and the collusive erasure of community suffering by the media, government and corporations ... Reading against the grain of official documents, defining what is there by what is not, Herrera bears witness to a crime that preceded his birth by 50 years ... Herrera shines in the details, whether his ekphrastic reading of the scant photographic records or his accounting of the instructions the inspector did not receive from the judge ... With 'this story of murder, plunder, and the determination to escape oblivion,' Herrera resurrects a century of dead files to disclose that which is 'palpable' in this mining community ... its title a testament to the endurance of people 'determined to remember' and with their memory resist racist brutality that protects corrupt governments and corporate property instead of human life.
Although it explores a single incident from a century ago, Yuri Herrera’s brief, forensic but quietly impassioned account of a Mexican mining disaster may speak directly to the movements that now seek to reclaim a buried past from beneath official records ... A Silent Fury asks, in its discreet but compelling voice, who gets to make history – especially the history of suffering and loss. It considers how the exclusions and oversights in formal accounts can be corrected by other sources, other memories ... Despite its flashes of drama, A Silent Fury reads almost like the working notes for a novel, or a critical case-study of history-making as the alibi of abusive power. Lisa Dillman’s English version adroitly captures its scholarly scruple and veiled ardour ... With oral legacies and his own insight to help him, Herrera translates the past anew ... It makes for a modest, quietly-spoken book – but a memorable one. Sometimes you wish that Herrera would let imagination – even indignation – rip, but that’s not his purpose here. For him, the lies of power that effaced the truth about life, and death, at El Bordo still flourish. And not only in Mexico, readers here may add. Three years ago today, Grenfell Tower burned.
The rigour that is so integral to the genre of narrative journalism is clear from the opening pages of Yuri Herrera’s A Silent Fury. Giving further weight to the book is the fact that, unlike Capote, Herrera is looking to right a wrong ... Herrera’s mission is to reclaim the voices of the dead and point the finger at the real culprits. The searing details are delivered in sparse, lucid prose that allows the horrific facts to speak for themselves ... The style...is similar to the witness literature of Primo Levi. Both writers interrogate the facts and the humanity or lack thereof that underpins them. The recent TV drama Chernobyl is another touchstone ... The book is beautifully paced – the huge twist at the end of the second chapter is a case in point – and the more we learn about the cruelties of the mining company in the aftermath of the fire, the more we come to care for the lives and families they destroyed ... With an excellent translation by Lisa Dillman, the book leaves the reader without doubt as to culpability of the company. It shows what was lost and the legacy that Herrera says is still palpable within the city today. On March 10th, 1920, the shafts of the El Bordo mine were sealed without consideration for the men below ground. A hundred years after the tragedy, Herrera succeeds in setting their stories free.