Lost Children Archive

by Valeria Luiselli
A family drama that highlights immigration issues and reflects the US attitude toward people, especially children, trying to cross the border. Provokes a lot of thought.  Longlisted for the 2019 Women's Prize  Lost Children Archive by Valeria Luiselli #fiction, #reading, #books to read, #books

Praise For This Book

"The novel truly becomes novel again in Luiselli's hands-electric, elastic, alluring, new . . . She is a superb chronicler of children: the daughter and son feel piercingly real-perceptive, irreplaceable, wonderfully odd. The book [is] an archive of curiosities, yearnings, animated by the narrator's restless energy . . . It breaks out of the rhythms of the road trip, into a heart-stopping climax." -Parul Sehgal, The New York Times

"Daring, wholly original, brilliant. . .fascinating. What Luiselli has pulled off here is a twist on the great American road trip novel, a book about alienation that chronicles fractures, divides, and estrangement-of both a family and a country. It's a remarkable feat of empathy and intellectuality that showcases Luiselli's ability to braid the political, historical, and personal while explicitly addressing the challenges of figuring out how to tell the very story she's telling. Luiselli is an extraordinary writer [with] a freewheeling novelist's imagination."-Heller McAlpin, NPR

"Engrossing...constantly surprising-a beguiling mixture of the real and the doubly invented; 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. The kids are utterly alive, hurling questions and mangling adult signals: we are with the family, inside their Volvo wagon, or looking over their shoulders as they eat in diners and stay in motels. 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." -James Wood, The New Yorker

"Riveting, lyrical, virtuosic . . . There is joy in make-believe in Lost Children Archive-a novel as much about storytellers and storytelling as it is about lost children. Two texts and two journeys-one by car, meandering; the other speeding forward with the locomotive propulsion of suspenseful fiction-seem on their way to a collision; Luiselli's most thrilling section consists of one rhythmic, delirious feat of a sentence reminiscent of Molly Bloom's epic soliloquy in Joyce's Ulysses. The novel bears rereading, to reveal pleasing ironies. Luiselli's metaphors are wrought with devastating precision . . . The brilliance of the writing stirs rage and pity. It humanizes us." -Gaiutra Bahardur, The New York Times Book Review

"Luiselli is a master. Not since Lolita has a road trip so brilliantly captured the dark underbelly of the American dream, the gulf between its promise and reality. Luiselli confronts big picture questions: What does it mean to be American? To what lengths should we go to bear witness? Will history ever stop repeating itself? All the while, her language is so transporting, it stops you time and again." -Carmen Maria Machado, O Magazine

"Stunning-an engaging blend of essay, travelogue and narrative. Those who read with pen in hand will find much to underline and explore. At the halfway point we turn a corner, and echoes from the past converge with the present with devastating force. Readers have been galvanized by road trips before; one thinks of Jesmyn Ward's haunting Sing, Unburied, Sing, and the ambition and humility of James Agee's Let Us Now Praise Famous Men. As with that brilliant and challenging book, Luiselli's singular narrative will prove uniquely rewarding, even life-changing." -The Seattle Times

"Urgent, profound, and poetic, this is a modern classic in the making, one that should be considered required reading . . . Threading together a rich tapestry of heartbreaking stories is the story of [one] family on the road. As their journey continues, it becomes clear that something else is driving this family to the Arizona-Mexico border-something of much greater importance than their projects, their careers, and even themselves. Lost Children Archive asks important questions about the nature and importance of storytelling, fictional and factual. It is a layered narrative about family, immigration, justice, and hope. There is no simplicity in [the novel's] structure, no easy ending. The story is still being written, being told, and perhaps most importantly, being heard." -Bustle

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