At Night We Walk in Circles

Daniel Alarcón

FINALIST FOR THE PEN/FAULKNER AWARD FOR FICTION

LONGLISTED FOR THE DYLAN THOMAS PRIZE

A breathtaking, suspenseful search for the truth of one man’s spectacular downfall, from Daniel Alarcón, one of the New Yorker’s 20 best writers under 40.

Nelson’s life is not turning out the way he hoped. His girlfriend is sleeping with another man, his brother has left their South American country and moved to the United States, leaving Nelson to care for their widowed mother, and his acting career can’t seem to get off the ground. That is, until he lands a starring role in a touring revival of The Idiot President, a legendary play by Nelson’s hero, Henry Nunez, leader of the storied guerrilla theatre troupe Diciembre. And that’s when the real trouble begins.

The tour takes Nelson out of the shelter of the city and across a landscape he’s never seen, which still bears the scars of the civil war. With each performance, Nelson grows closer to his fellow actors, becoming hopelessly entangled in their complicated lives, until, during one memorable performance, a long-buried betrayal surfaces to force the troupe into chaos.

Nelson’s fate is slowly revealed through the investigation of the narrator, a young man obsessed with Nelson’s story—and perhaps closer to it than he lets on. In sharp, vivid, and beautiful prose, Alarcón delivers a compulsively readable narrative and a provocative meditation on fate, identity, and the large consequences that can result from even our smallest choices.

Reviews of At Night We Walk in Circles

    • ‘Alarcón is a serious, talented, charming and often beautiful writer’ Guardian
    • ‘Daniel Alarcón is a serious talent … ‘At Night We Walk in Circles’ is a complex exploration of memory, storytelling, fate and identity … Alarcón summons both the city and the provinces of his native land with tremendous vigour and reveals the loneliness that lies at the heart of his characters’ Financial Times
    • ‘Comedy and menace are held in exquisite tension … beautifully plotted and paced … This is a clever book, not a clever-clever one, with a metafictional dimension that raises the emotional temperature rather than cooling it. As a heartwarming road novel, a pair of doomed love stories and a propulsive, irresolvable murder mystery folded into a scrupulous inspection of narrative ethics, it’s some feat’ Guardian
    • ‘Alarcon’s conscious reimagining emancipates him from writing a kind of fictionalised anthropology. It allows him to write a fable for any small country ravaged by the Cold War, by the drug trade, by violent political factionalism, and by the displacement of traditional societies through neoliberal economic policies.’ Telegraph
    • ‘The novel succeeds as a powerful elegy for a vanishing world and captures the dying light of a radical moment.’ Ted Hodgkinson, Literary Review
    • ‘Poignantly vivid … Alarcón’s depiction of the twin traps of illusion and despair, his portraits of people defeated by life or refusing to accept defeat, ring powerfully true’ Prospect
    • ‘Nabokov says that imagination is a form of memory, and this novel is a perfect example of this claim. In writing about a place, its people and its history, Daniel Alarcón’s memory catches the evanescent details of everyday life, while his imagination, never for a moment blurred, creates a powerful story with so many intricate characters. This is a novel written with extraordinary vision and wisdom.’ Yiyun Li, author of Gold Boy, Emerald Girl and The Vagrants