100 books like Signs Preceding the End of the World

By Yuri Herrera, Lisa Dillman (translator),

Here are 100 books that Signs Preceding the End of the World fans have personally recommended if you like Signs Preceding the End of the World. Shepherd is a community of 10,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of The Master of Go

Steven Arntson Author Of The Wikkeling

From my list on short contemporary novels in translation.

Why am I passionate about this?

My writing career has been in middle grade and YA, but as a reader I’m always trying to branch out. When I was a kid, literature opened the door to the whole world, and as an adult, I’m still exploring. When I read work in translation I can feel the literary connection to other writers and thinkers and simultaneously appreciate the differences that arise through geographic and cultural heritage. I hope my selections here might help readers like myself who enjoy reaching out to new voices and places.

Steven's book list on short contemporary novels in translation

Steven Arntson Why did Steven love this book?

Translated from Japanese, this 182-page novel originally published in 1951 is perhaps a little long to be included as a short novel, and a little old to be considered contemporary . . . but it’s a personal favorite! Both a novel and a piece of journalism, Master describes the final match of a man widely considered to be his generation’s greatest go player. Interwoven into this narrative/character study are arresting details about the game and those who have played it over the centuries. It reads so quickly, you’ll think it was only 100 pages.

By Yasunari Kawabata, Edward G. Seidensticker (translator),

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked The Master of Go as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Go is a game of strategy in which two players attempt to surround each other's black or white stones. Simple in its fundamentals, infinitely complex in its execution, it is an essential expression of the Japanese sensibility. And in his fictional chronicle of a match played between a revered and invincible Master and a younger, more progressive challenger, Yasunari Kawabata captured the moment in which the immutable traditions of imperial Japan met the onslaught of the twentieth century.

The competition between the Master of Go and his opponent, Otake, is waged over several months and layered in ceremony. But beneath…


Book cover of Memoirs of a Woman Doctor

Steven Arntson Author Of The Wikkeling

From my list on short contemporary novels in translation.

Why am I passionate about this?

My writing career has been in middle grade and YA, but as a reader I’m always trying to branch out. When I was a kid, literature opened the door to the whole world, and as an adult, I’m still exploring. When I read work in translation I can feel the literary connection to other writers and thinkers and simultaneously appreciate the differences that arise through geographic and cultural heritage. I hope my selections here might help readers like myself who enjoy reaching out to new voices and places.

Steven's book list on short contemporary novels in translation

Steven Arntson Why did Steven love this book?

Translated from Arabic and 101 pages in length, this wonderful 1958 short novel is the first longer work of this legendary Egyptian writer, activist, and feminist. If you like it, you are in for a wonderful exploration of the life and work of this astounding writer and thinker. Trained as a doctor in Cairo, El Saadawi is also a riveting reporter of her experiences in a world where doctors were almost always men.

By Nawal El Saadawi, Catherine Cobham (translator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Memoirs of a Woman Doctor as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Rebelling against the contraints of family and society, a young Egyptian woman decides to study medicine, becoming the only woman in a class of men. Her encounters with the other students mdash; as well as the male and female corpses in the autopsy room intensify her dissatisfaction with and search for identity. She realizes men are not gods as her mother had taught her, that science cannot explain everything, and that she cannot be satisfied by living a life purely of the mind.

After a brief and unhappy marriage, she throws herself into her work, becoming a successful physician, but…


Book cover of “Muslim”

Steven Arntson Author Of The Wikkeling

From my list on short contemporary novels in translation.

Why am I passionate about this?

My writing career has been in middle grade and YA, but as a reader I’m always trying to branch out. When I was a kid, literature opened the door to the whole world, and as an adult, I’m still exploring. When I read work in translation I can feel the literary connection to other writers and thinkers and simultaneously appreciate the differences that arise through geographic and cultural heritage. I hope my selections here might help readers like myself who enjoy reaching out to new voices and places.

Steven's book list on short contemporary novels in translation

Steven Arntson Why did Steven love this book?

Translated from French, this beautiful 101-page narrative reads like a poetic meditation. Our character once lived a deeply rural life in North Africa, a cultural and linguistic outsider. Now, as a refugee plunged into a new world of identities, she has been informed that she is Muslim. But what does it mean, this word, across languages and cultures? Deep questions about the interlacing of culture, religion, and geopolitics are posed here with startling urgency in a style that evokes not only the machinations of the state, but the deeply interior world in which we define ourselves to ourselves.

By Zahia Rahmani, Matt Reeck (translator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked “Muslim” as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"Muslim" A Novel is a genre-bending, poetic reflection on what it means to be Muslim from one of France's leading writers. In this novel, the second in a trilogy, Rahmani's narrator contemplates the loss of her native language and her imprisonment and exile for being Muslim, woven together in an exploration of the political and personal relationship of language within the fraught history of Islam. Drawing inspiration from the oral histories of her native Berber language, the Koran, and French children's tales, Rahmani combines fiction and lyric essay in to tell an important story, both powerful and visionary, of identity,…


Book cover of Space Invaders

Steven Arntson Author Of The Wikkeling

From my list on short contemporary novels in translation.

Why am I passionate about this?

My writing career has been in middle grade and YA, but as a reader I’m always trying to branch out. When I was a kid, literature opened the door to the whole world, and as an adult, I’m still exploring. When I read work in translation I can feel the literary connection to other writers and thinkers and simultaneously appreciate the differences that arise through geographic and cultural heritage. I hope my selections here might help readers like myself who enjoy reaching out to new voices and places.

Steven's book list on short contemporary novels in translation

Steven Arntson Why did Steven love this book?

Translated from Spanish and a mere 70 pages in length, you may be hungry for more (as I was) when you've finished this bracingly brief story. Fortunately, you can pick up this author's The Twilight Zone (as I did) to read a longer exploration by this author of the events and themes introduced here. Fernández writes from the perspective of a young person living during the Pinochet regime in Chile, evoking the time with an extended metaphor about the ‘80s video game Space Invaders. The concerns of the young are strangely pushed and pulled by the terrible realities of that regime, which, like an invader from another world, descends upon their lives.

By Nona Fernández, Natasha Wimmer (translator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Space Invaders as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Longlisted for the National Book Award for Translated Literature

A dreamlike evocation of a generation that grew up in the shadow of a dictatorship in 1980s Chile

Space Invaders is the story of a group of childhood friends who, in adulthood, are preoccupied by uneasy memories and visions of their classmate Estrella González Jepsen. In their dreams, they catch glimpses of Estrella’s braids, hear echoes of her voice, and read old letters that eventually, mysteriously, stopped arriving. They recall regimented school assemblies, nationalistic class performances, and a trip to the beach. Soon it becomes clear that Estrella’s father was a…


Book cover of The Devil's Highway: A True Story

Louis Mendoza Author Of (Re)constructing Memory, Place, and Identity in Twentieth Century Houston: A Memoir on Family and Being Mexican American in Space City USA

From my list on Mexican migration to the United States.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a second-generation immigrant, I knew very little of my family’s migration story. My grandparents never really learned English despite living in the US sixty or more years. In my twenties when the country was undergoing turmoil about immigration reform once again, I began looking at the immigrants all around me (and in literature) and identifying what we had in common—how our lives intertwined and were mutually dependent on one another. In 2007 I traveled 8,500 miles around the perimeter of the US by bicycle on a research trip to collect stories from immigrants and those whose lives they impacted. I wrote two books based on that experience.

Louis' book list on Mexican migration to the United States

Louis Mendoza Why did Louis love this book?

The Devil’s Highway is the 2001 story of the tragedy that befell 26 men and boys from Veracruz who cross the Mexico/Arizona border led by human smugglers who get lost on a stretch of desert known as the Devil's Highway.

Urrea is known for his direct and clear reportage style of writing. As he depicts what happened to these men seeking a chance at the American Dream, Urrea does not lose sight of the broken system of immigration, the border patrol, the smugglers or the criminal enterprise of which they are part.

The actual walk and the deadly mistakes made by their “guide” are not shared until Part Three of the book. Through the recollections of walkers and creative non-fiction he recreates dialogue that captures the motives and dreams of these ill-fated men.

By Luis Alberto Urrea,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked The Devil's Highway as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A widely-praised piece of investigative reporting examining the journey of 26 men who in May 2001 attempted to cross the Mexican border into the desert of Southern Arizona through the region known as the Devil's Highway. So harsh and desolate that even the Border Patrol is afraid to travel through it, the Highway has claimed the lives of countless men and women - in May 2001 it claimed 14 more. History of high acclaim from the author of The Hummingbird's Daughter.


Book cover of The Line Becomes a River: Dispatches from the Border

César Cuauhtémoc García Hernández Author Of Migrating to Prison: America's Obsession with Locking Up Immigrants

From my list on turning immigration policies into human stories.

Why am I passionate about this?

As an immigration legal scholar and lawyer, I read about immigration a lot. From laws that seem written to confuse to articles in academic journals written for an audience of experts, I’m lucky to love what I do—and so I enjoy most of what I read. But these books are special. They drew me in and wouldn’t let go until the last page. Whether fiction or non-fiction, they are written by storytellers who bring laws and policies to life.

César's book list on turning immigration policies into human stories

César Cuauhtémoc García Hernández Why did César love this book?

Much of “the line,” as Border Patrol agents and migrants sometimes call the border, is far from big cities and curious journalists. And a lot of what happens there, happens under cover of darkness or behind the secured doors of Border Patrol stations.

As a former Border Patrol agent, Cantú saw what happened when no one else was looking. His memoir shares it with the rest of us.

By Francisco Cantú,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Line Becomes a River as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Shortlisted for the Orwell Prize for Political Writing 2019, an electrifying memoir from a Mexican-American US Border Patrol guard

'Stunningly good... The best thing I've read for ages'
James Rebanks, author of The Shepherd's Life

Francisco Cantu was a US Border Patrol agent from 2008 to 2012.

In this extraordinary account, he describes his work in the desert along the Mexican border. He tracks humans through blistering days and frigid nights. He detains the exhausted and hauls in the dead. The line he is sworn to defend, however, begins to dissolve. Haunted by nightmares, Cantu abandons the Patrol for civilian…


Book cover of Migra! A History of the U.S. Border

Reece Jones Author Of Nobody Is Protected: How the Border Patrol Became the Most Dangerous Police Force in the United States

From my list on US Border Patrol.

Why am I passionate about this?

I first came face to face with the expansive and unchecked authority of the Border Patrol about a decade ago when I was stopped five times in less than an hour while driving on a Texas country road. Could the Border Patrol really stop any vehicle they want without any reason whatsoever deep inside the United States? That day set me off on a journey through the borderlands and into the history of the Supreme Court in order to tell the untold story of how the Border Patrol became the most dangerous police force in the United States.  

Reece's book list on US Border Patrol

Reece Jones Why did Reece love this book?

This one takes us back to the founding of the Border Patrol to look at its Wild West origins. The first agents were plucked from frontier law enforcement and the Texas Rangers, whose earlier tasks included slave patrols and the violent removal of Native Americans. Lytle Hernandez shows how those racist and violent origins shaped the practices of the early Border Patrol. 

By Kelly Lytle Hernandez,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Migra! A History of the U.S. Border as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This is the untold history of the United States Border Patrol from its beginnings in 1924 as a small peripheral outfit to its emergence as a large professional police force. To tell this story, Kelly Lytle Hernandez dug through a gold mine of lost and unseen records stored in garages, closets, an abandoned factory, and in U.S. and Mexican archives. Focusing on the daily challenges of policing the borderlands and bringing to light unexpected partners and forgotten dynamics, "Migra!" reveals how the U.S. Border Patrol translated the mandate for comprehensive migration control into a project of policing Mexicans in the…


Book cover of The Leavers

D. Dina Friedman Author Of Immigrants

From my list on books portraying the human side of the immigration “crisis”.

Why am I passionate about this?

In 2019 I spent several days on a ladder witnessing children who were locked in a detention center in Homestead, and in early 2020, I traveled to the Brownsville/Matamoros border, where the stories people told me broke my heart. Often, it was not threats to their own lives but to their children’s lives that triggered their decision to flee. I wrote Immigrants and an accompanying book of poetry (Here in Sanctuary–Whirling) not to make political points, but to tell some of these stories and highlight the gaps between our human propensity toward kindness and the way we fall into the trap of “othering” those who are not exactly like us.  

D.'s book list on books portraying the human side of the immigration “crisis”

D. Dina Friedman Why did D. love this book?

This was one of the most sensitive portrayals of the effects of deportation on families that I’ve ever read.

I resonated even more strongly because it was set in New York City (my hometown), and the descriptions of different neighborhoods really came to life. I also appreciated the dual point of view narration (the story is told from both the mother and son’s perspective), and I could relate to both characters, even when they made difficult choices that ended up being hurtful. 

By Lisa Ko,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked The Leavers as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

One morning, Deming Guo's mother, an undocumented Chinese immigrant named Polly, goes to her job at the nail salon and never comes home. No one can find any trace of her. With his mother gone, eleven-year-old Deming is left with no one to care for him. He is eventually adopted by two white college professors who move him from the Bronx to a small town upstate. They rename him Daniel Wilkinson in their efforts to make him over into their version of an "all-American boy." But far away from all he's ever known, Daniel struggles to reconcile his new life…


Book cover of Migrating to Prison: America's Obsession with Locking Up Immigrants

Nancy Hiemstra Author Of Detain and Deport: The Chaotic U.S. Immigration Enforcement Regime

From my list on why the U.S. has the biggest immigration detention system.

Why am I passionate about this?

I first became aware of harms of immigration enforcement policies while volunteering to tutor kids of undocumented migrant farmworkers in the 1990s. Through a variety of jobs in the U.S. and Latin America, my eyes were opened to reasons driving people to migrate and challenges immigrants face. I eventually went to graduate school in Geography to study local to transnational reverberations of immigration policies. A project in Ecuador where I helped families of people detained in the U.S. led me to realize how huge, cruel, and ineffective U.S. immigration detention is. I hope these books help you break through myths about detention and make sense of the chaos.

Nancy's book list on why the U.S. has the biggest immigration detention system

Nancy Hiemstra Why did Nancy love this book?

This book explicitly ties the explosion in immigration detention to goals of political gain and corporate profit, pairing careful historical and legal analysis with piercing personal stories of detention.

After laying out how U.S. foreign policy has triggered the migration patterns that now send lawmakers and the public into a nativist frenzy, legal scholar García Hernández breaks down how laws have been warped to make more people detainable.

He zeroes in on the role of private prison companies, and he explains how Latino immigrants have been turned into fodder for the detention system through lobbying and manipulation of the public narrative. The book finishes by laying out a framework for curbing this corrupt and abusive system.

By César Cuauhtémoc García Hernández,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Migrating to Prison as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

NATIONAL BESTSELLER

A powerful, in-depth look at the imprisonment of immigrants, addressing the intersection of immigration and the criminal justice system, with a new epilogue by the author

"Argues compellingly that immigrant advocates shouldn't content themselves with debates about how many thousands of immigrants to lock up, or other minor tweaks." -Gus Bova, Texas Observer

For most of America's history, we simply did not lock people up for migrating here. Yet over the last thirty years, the federal and state governments have increasingly tapped their powers to incarcerate people accused of violating immigration laws.

Migrating to Prison takes a hard…


Book cover of Bang

Kia Corthron Author Of The Castle Cross the Magnet Carter

From my list on the intersection of race, class, and justice in America.

Why am I passionate about this?

I grew up as an African American in the Maryland Appalachian valley, a town that was ninety-five percent white. My father worked for the paper mill and would bring home reams of paper, pens, pencils. I began playing with the stuff—making up stories and stapling them into books, the raw beginnings of a future novelist. Separately, I created dialogue, using clothespins as people: a burgeoning playwright. (We were not destitute—my sister and I had toys! But those makeshift playthings worked best for my purposes.) So, given my working-class racial minority origins, it was rather inevitable that I would be drawn to stories addressing class and race. 

Kia's book list on the intersection of race, class, and justice in America

Kia Corthron Why did Kia love this book?

I was searching for some good fiction by a Latinx author regarding immigration at the southern border when I discovered this gem. The narrative begins in Texas with an undocumented family—the mother’s constant dread of authorities; the aching memory of the father’s deportation; sickness and abuse engendered by farm work. Some youthful mischief by the two sons accidentally, and in an instant, splinters the household and transforms the mise en scène to Mexico and the nightmare that, as the author eloquently demonstrates, NAFTA and the American drug wars have wrought: routine brutality, lethal superstition, destitution, desperation. Peña’s graceful prose packs into two hundred pages an epic journey of love and sacrifice, of terror and survival, of three people struggling under the most insurmountable circumstances to maintain their humanity. 

By Daniel Peña,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Bang as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Uli’s first flight, a late-night joy ride with his brother, changes their lives forever when the engine stops and the boys crash land, with “Texas to the right and Mexico to the left.” Before the accident, Uli juggled his status as both an undocumented immigrant and a high school track star in Harlingen, Texas, desperately hoping to avoid being deported like his father. His mother Araceli spent her time waiting for her husband. His older brother Cuauhtémoc, a former high-school track star turned drop-out, learned to fly a crop duster, spraying pesticide over their home in the citrus grove.

After…


5 book lists we think you will like!

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