Add Valeria Luiselli's Lost Children Archive to the canon of great American road trip narratives, where it deserves a special place for looking beyond the borders of this vast and conflicted country to reveal how our insularity damages us -- and others. It's an unforgettable and heart-rending achievement that feels contemporary while also transcending our current moment to speak to problems as old as our nation. — From Valeria Luiselli
February 2019 Indie Next List
“Really incredible fiction takes you on a journey, and somewhere along the way you realize how much of it reflects your own reality. In Lost Children Archive, Valeria Luiselli’s narrator is highly observant of her inner life and the world around her. She unravels a story that’s about family and how walls between people and nations are built — and what they damage. In reading this book, I felt like I was in the car on the family’s road trip — feeling all the conflicting emotions that Luiselli’s narrator is feeling as a partner, mother, and resident in today’s United States.”
— Zoey Cole, Books Are Magic, Brooklyn, NY
"Impossibly smart, full of beauty, heart and insight . . . Everyone should read this book."--Tommy Orange
From the two-time NBCC Finalist, an emotionally resonant, fiercely imaginative new novel about a family whose road trip across America collides with an immigration crisis at the southwestern border--an indelible journey told with breathtaking imagery, spare lyricism, and profound humanity.
A mother and father set out with their two children, a boy and a girl, driving from New York to Arizona in the heat of summer. Their destination: Apacheria, the place the Apaches once called home.
Why Apaches? asks the ten-year-old son. Because they were the last of something, answers his father.
In their car, they play games and sing along to music. But on the radio, there is news about an "immigration crisis": thousands of kids trying to cross the southwestern border into the United States, but getting detained--or lost in the desert along the way.
As the family drives--through Virginia to Tennessee, across Oklahoma and Texas--we sense they are on the brink of a crisis of their own. A fissure is growing between the parents, one the children can almost feel beneath their feet. They are led, inexorably, to a grand, harrowing adventure--both in the desert landscape and within the chambers of their own imaginations.
Told through several compelling voices, blending texts, sounds, and images, Lost Children Archive is an astonishing feat of literary virtuosity. It is a richly engaging story of how we document our experiences, and how we remember the things that matter to us the most. With urgency and empathy, it takes us deep into the lives of one remarkable family as it probes the nature of justice and equality today.
About the Author
Valeria Luiselli was born in Mexico City and grew up in South Korea, South Africa and India. An acclaimed writer of both fiction and nonfiction, she is the author of the essay collection Sidewalks; the novels Faces in the Crowd and The Story of My Teeth; and, most recently, Tell Me How It Ends: An Essay in Forty Questions. She is the winner of two Los Angeles Times Book Prizes and an American Book Award, and has twice been nominated for the National Book Critics Circle Award and the Kirkus Prize. She has been a National Book Foundation "5 Under 35" honoree and the recipient of a Bearing Witness Fellowship from the Art for Justice Fund. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, Granta, and McSweeney's, among other publications, and has been translated into more than twenty languages. She lives in New York City.
"Impossibly smart, full of beauty, heart and insight, Lost Children Archive is a novel about archiving all that we don’t want to lose. Luiselli looks into the American present as well as its history: into Native American history, and the many intersections between American and Mexican history that are and have always been there. This is the perfect American road trip novel for right now. Everyone should read this book.” —Tommy Orange, author of There There
"A gorgeous and vital ghost-rich soundscape, and one of the most brilliant portrayals of child-parent relationships I have ever read. Luiselli floods extraordinary light onto childhood, parenthood, the literary consciousness, and how we make sense of past and present pain. Lost Children Archive is one of the best novels I’ve read in recent years, and one of the most important.” —Max Porter, author of Grief is the Thing With Feathers
"Luiselli writes with so much intelligence, compassion and originality, her work always astonishes me. Lost Children Archive is absolutely phenomenal." —Claire-Louise Bennett, author of Pond
“Engrossing…brilliantly intricate and constantly surprising—a passionately engaged book [with] intellectual amplitude and moral seriousness, [and] a beautiful, loving portrait of children and of the task of looking after them. It is a pleasure to be a part of the narrator’s family; just as pleasurable is the access we gain to the narrator’s mind—a comprehensive literary intelligence. A gripping and fantastical tale . . . an intensely allusive, beguiling mixture of the real and the doubly invented. Luiselli [is] playful and brave.” —James Wood, The New Yorker
“A highly imaginative, politically deft portrait of childhood within a vast American landscape—a rollicking tale that contains within it an extremely disciplined exercise in political empathy. Luiselli takes the minds of children seriously, and the reader witnesses their intelligent eyes and ears recording each detail of the borderlands and registering the full terror of them. Luiselli braids and reworks disparate texts . . . [characters’] experiences overlap to create a patchwork representation of how America might see itself. The novel’s most thrilling section [is] a single sentence sustained for some twenty pages near the end, which remains measured and crystalline, expertly controll[ed] . . . Luiselli shows the reader something she wouldn’t normally see, and also maps the past onto the present in ways that can reveal hidden contours in both.” —Lidija Haas, Harper’s
"Remarkable, inventive. . . . A family treks south to the U.S.-Mexico border, bearing tales of the anguish of migrant families all the way down. The opening sections are thick with literary references and social critique; imagine On the Road rewritten by Maggie Nelson. But the story darkens as they witness the [families’] plight firsthand, and later, as the couple's children stumble into their own crisis. As the novel rises to a ferocious climax, Luiselli thunderously, persuasively insists that reckoning with the border will make deep demands of our emotional reserves. A powerful border story, at once intellectual and heartfelt." —Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
"Superb, powerful, eloquent. Juxtaposing rich, poetic prose with direct storytelling, and alternating narratives with photos, documents, poems, maps, and music, LOST CHILDREN ARCHIVE explores what holds a family and society together, and what pulls them apart. The novel begins with a family embarking on a road trip, and culminates in an indictment of the tragic shortcomings of the immigration process. Luiselli demonstrates how callousness toward other cultures erodes our own. Her novel makes a devastating case for compassion." —Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“Poignant, intense, keenly timely . . . Luiselli is no stranger to inventive storytelling; [this] latest work is perhaps her most politically relevant. Stories of Latin American asylum seekers and the disappeared Apaches overlap and converge . . . This is one of few novels that fully and powerfully conveys the urgency of this unsettling situation.” —Booklist (starred review)