The King Is Always Above the People

Daniel Alarcón

Longlisted for the National Book Award for Fiction

An unforgettable collection of stories from Daniel Alarcón, one of the New Yorker’s 20 best writers under 40, and one of the best storytellers of our time.

Migration. Betrayal. Family secrets. Doomed love. Uncertain futures. In Daniel Alarcón’s hands, these are transformed into deeply human stories with high stakes.

In ‘The Thousands’, people are on the move and forging new paths; hope and heartbreak abound. A man deals with the fallout of his blind relatives’ mysterious deaths and his father’s mental breakdown and incarceration in ‘The Bridge’. A gang member discovers a way to forgiveness and redemption through the haze of violence and trauma in ‘The Ballad of Rocky Rontal’. And in the tour de force novella, ‘The Auroras’, a man severs himself from his old life and seeks to make a new one in a new city, only to find himself seduced and controlled by a powerful woman.

Richly drawn, full of unforgettable characters, The King is Always Above the People reveals experiences both unsettling and unknown, and yet eerily familiar in this new world.

Reviews of The King Is Always Above the People

    • ‘A collection that dazzles with allegorical power and satire’ New Statesman
    • ‘There’s a quiet moment in Abraham Lincoln Has Been Shot – one of the more ambitious stories in Daniel Alarcón’s memorable new collection – when Hank, who is splitting up with his boyfriend, ponders that: “The place you are born is simply the first place you flee.” Which is a neat way to describe how so many of Alarcón’s characters operate in The King Is Always Above The People. Time and time again, young men are forced to leave home, learning something about themselves, freedom and the ties of family. They do so in beautifully intimate ways that surely reflect this Peruvian-American’s experience producing the Radio Ambulante podcast, a kind of This American Life for the Spanish-speaking world; in similar ways the stories here take on huge issues such as migration, isolation, poverty and war through personal, lived experience rather than using broad brushstrokes. What’s equally impressive is that although the tone is even throughout, the medium is refreshingly varied’ Observer
    • ‘Alarcón’s beautiful collection explores the ways we construct new lives from the debris left by historical injustice. Subtly exploring the boundaries between the personal and political…a book about migrant fathers and the world they bestow on their sons … Daniel Alarcón seems to suggest, we are all migrants trying to build a home before dawn’ Carlos Fonseca, TLS
    • ‘His preoccupations include migration, poverty, conflict and displacement, and in both his fiction and his journalism he reflects on how the boundary between North America and Latin America – whatever Donald Trump may do to make it concrete – is becoming increasingly porous…Alarcón is hardly the first writer to examine the crisis of masculinity, but he’s unusually alive to the ways that it is bound up with uncertainty about political and national identity’ Henry Hitchings, Financial Times