A work of autobiographical fiction by Mexican poet Herbert. As he sits by his dying mother, a son immerses himself in his memories of his childhood and youth while he investigates the complex relationship with his former prostitute mother, his own children and his country.
Herbert, known previously mostly as a poet, is now — with this playful experiment of memoir, fiction, humor and tragedy — among the more interesting and ambitious prose stylists of our time ... Beyond all the power and poetry of a reckoning with poverty is the book's sly and wonderful handling of the literary world ... Herbert's ambitious novel is the pleasing work of a high stylist having fun, loving life, making a good story despite a country's miseries and his own.
Tomb Song leaves space for the high-minded, the sociopolitical and the pop culture-obsessed ... Tomb Song is an inherently contradictory book: The experimental aspects of its structure have a playfulness to them, which in turn contrasts with the (literally) life-or-death stakes at its core ... This novel sprawls, but never loses sight of the human connection at its core — and it’s all the more moving as a result.
The suspension of melodrama and morality allows readers of Tomb Song to experience the fears and pains of life and death without being bailed out by easy life lessons or by cheap solutions appealing to the transcendent or the divine ... It is fortunate that Herbert’s complex book found in Christina MacSweeney, a distinguished and brilliant translator, someone with the sensibility to deliver its many emotional and formal dimensions into English ... Tomb Song, in the sections I have described here and the ones that I leave for the reader to discover, is one of the most important, exciting, and original works of literature to come out of Latin America in the past decade.