Full of violent hesitation and contradictions, His Name Was Death is also a book about the power of writing.

Yuri Herrera

Rafael Bernal

Rafael Bernal (1915–1972), the renowned Mexican novelist, journalist, and diplomat, was celebrated for his ability to inhabit and explode various genre forms: The Mongolian Conspiracy spun a pulpy noir into literature, and now His Name Was Death smuggles sci-fi and eco-fiction into new realms.


The LA Times on The Mongolian Conspiracy

“1969 thriller finally gets English translation” The Boston Globe on The Mongolian Conspiracy

Publisher’s Weekly on The Mongolian Conspiracy

Lit Reactor on The Mongolian Conspiracy

NPR on The Mongolian Conspiracy

Kirkus Review on The Mongolian Conspiracy

Down and Out Mag on The Mongolian Conspiracy

The New York Times on The Mongolian Conspiracy

cover image of the book His Name Was Death

His Name Was Death

by Rafael Bernal

Translated by Kit Schluter

With a contribution by Yuri Herrera

Never before in English, this legendary precursor to ecofiction turns the coming insect apocalypse on its head. A bitter drunk forsakes civilization and takes to the Mexican jungle, trapping animals, selling their pelts to buy liquor for colossal benders, and slowly rotting away in his fetid hut. His neighbors, a local Chiapas tribe, however, see something more in him than he does himself (dubbing him Wise Owl). When he falls deathly ill, a shaman named Black Ant saves his life—and, almost by chance, in driving out his fever, she exorcises the demon of alcoholism as well. Slowly recovering our antihero discovers a curious thing about the mosquitoes’ buzzing, “which to human ears seemed so irritating and pointless”: it constituted a language he might learn—and with the help of a flute and a homemade dictionary—even speak. Slowly, he masters Mosquil, with astonishing consequences… Will he harness the mosquitoes’ global might? And will his new powers enable him to take over the world that’s rejected him? A book far ahead of its time, His Name Was Death looks down the double-barreled shotgun of ecological disaster and colonial exploitation—and cackles a graveyard laugh.

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cover image of the book The Mongolian Conspiracy

The Mongolian Conspiracy

by Rafael Bernal

Translated by Katherine Silver

With a contribution by Francisco Goldman

Only a couple of days before the state visit of the President of the United States, Filiberto García — an impeccably groomed “gun for hire,” ex–Mexican revolutionary, and classic antihero — is recruited by the Mexican police to discover how much truth there might be to KGB and CIA reports of a Chinese-Mongolian plot to assassinate the Mexican and American presidents during the unveiling of a statue in Mexico City.

García kills various criminals as he searches for clues in the opium dens, curio shops, and Cantonese restaurants of Mexico City’s Chinatown — clues that appear to point not to Mongolia, but to Cuba. Yet as the bodies pile up, he begins to find traces of slimy political dealings: are local gears grinding away in these machinations of an “international incident”? Pulsating behind the smokescreen of this classic noir are fierce curses, a shockingly innocent affair, smoldering dialog, and unforgettable riffs about the meaning of life, the Mexican Revolution, women, and the best gun to use for close-range killing.

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Full of violent hesitation and contradictions, His Name Was Death is also a book about the power of writing.

Yuri Herrera
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