Lost Children Archive

Valeria Luiselli

Suppose you and Pa were gone, and we were lost. What would happen then?

A family in New York packs the car and sets out on a road trip. A mother, a father, a boy and a girl, they head south west, to the Apacheria, the regions of the US which used to be Mexico. They drive for hours through desert and mountains. They stop at diners when they’re hungry and sleep in motels when it gets dark. The little girl tells surreal knock knock jokes and makes them all laugh. The little boy educates them all and corrects them when they’re wrong. The mother and the father are barely speaking to each other.

Meanwhile, thousands of children are journeying north, travelling to the US border from Central America and Mexico. A grandmother or aunt has packed a backpack for them, putting in a bible, one toy, some clean underwear. They have been met by a coyote: a man who speaks to them roughly and frightens them. They cross a river on rubber tubing and walk for days, saving whatever food and water they can. Then they climb to the top of a train and travel precariously in the open container on top. Not all of them will make it to the border.

In a breath-taking feat of literary virtuosity, Lost Children Archives intertwines these two journeys to create a masterful novel full of echoes and reflections – a moving, powerful, urgent story about what it is to be human in an inhuman world.

Reviews of Lost Children Archive

    • ‘Beautiful, pleasurable, engrossing, beguiling … brilliantly intricate and constantly surprising’ James Wood, New Yorker
    • ‘A mould-breaking new classic … The novel truly becomes novel again in her hands – electric, elastic, alluring, new’ New York Times
    • ‘Fascinating, haunting, poetic, engrossing … an involving and richly textured book’ Sunday Times
    • ‘Valeria Luiselli offers a searing indictment of America’s border policy in this roving and rather beautiful form-busting novel. Among the tale’s many ruminative ideas about absences, vanished histories and bearing witness, it offers a powerful meditation on how best to tell a story when the subject of it is missing’ Daily Mail
    • ‘Thrilling … a rollicking tale that contains within it an extremely disciplined exercise in political empathy’ Harper’s
    • ‘Elegant and generous, funny and poignant … an extraordinary allegory’ Atlantic
    • ‘A novelist of a rare vitality’ Ali Smith
    • ‘Powerful, eloquent. Juxtaposing rich poetic prose with direct storytelling and brutal reality and alternative narratives with photos, documents, poems, maps and music, Luiselli explores what holds a family and society together and what pulls them apart. Superb’ Publishers Weekly
    • ‘The novelist all your smart friends are talking about’ Broadly
    • ‘An extraordinary new literary talent’ Daily Telegraph
    • ‘Valeria Luiselli is a writer of formidable talent, destined to be an important voice in Latin American letters. Her vision and language are precise, and the power of her intellect is in evidence on every page’ Daniel Alarcon
    • ‘Luiselli’s writing is full of verve’ Irish Times