Faces in the Crowd

      Valeria Luiselli

Faces in the Crowd

"An extraordinary new literary talent."—The Daily Telegraph

"In part a portrait of the artist as a young woman, this deceptively modest-seeming, astonishingly inventive novel creates an extraordinary intimacy, a sensibility so alive it quietly takes over all your senses, quivering through your nerve endings, opening your eyes and heart. Youth, from unruly student years to early motherhood and a loving marriage—and then, in the book's second half, wilder and something else altogether, the fearless, half-mad imagination of youth, I might as well call it—has rarely been so freshly, charmingly, and unforgettably portrayed. Valeria Luiselli is a masterful, entirely original writer."—Francisco Goldman

In Mexico City, a young mother is writing a novel of her days as a translator living in New York. In Harlem, a translator is desperate to publish the works of Gilberto Owen, an obscure Mexican poet. And in Philadelphia, Gilberto Owen recalls his friendship with Lorca, and the young woman he saw in the windows of passing trains. Valeria Luiselli's debut signals the arrival of a major international writer and an unexpected and necessary voice in contemporary fiction.
"Luiselli’s haunting debut novel, about a young mother living in Mexico City who writes a novel looking back on her time spent working as a translator of obscure works at a small independent press in Harlem, erodes the concrete borders of everyday life with a beautiful, melancholy contemplation of disappearance. . . . Luiselli plays with the idea of time and identity with grace and intuition." —Publishers Weekly




“A multi-angled portrait of the artist as a young woman, as a con artist, as a young mother and wife, this book immerses the reader in the most enchanting and persuasive intimacy. The fearless, half-mad imagination of youth has rarely been so freshly, charmingly and unforgettably portrayed. Valeria Luiselli is a precociously masterful and entirely original new writer.”—Francisco Goldman

“A masterwork of fractured identities and shifting realities, Faces in the Crowd is a lyric meditation on love, mortality, ghosts, and the desire to transform our human wreckage into art, to be saved by creation. Valeria Luiselli is a stunning and singular voice. Her work burns with an urgency that demands our attention. Read her. Right now.”—Laura van den Berg, *The Isle of Youth*

“Valeria Luiselli’s extraordinary debut novel Faces in the Crowd signals the arrival of major talent. The novel’s fragmented, poetic narrative immediately engages and slowly reveals its secrets. Is this a story about a woman discovering a forgotten Latin poet of the Harlem Renaissance? Is the woman imagined by the poet? Are they both ghosts in search of some way back to the real? Written in Spanish, and exquisitely translated by Christina MacSweeney, Faces in the Crowd is a fresh and essential voice for the new Latin-American canon.”—Jeremy Ellis, Brazos Bookstore, Houston, TX

Faces in the Crowd is a subtle, sophisticated examination of identity, authenticity, and poetry. The narrator, a young married writer and mother of two, shares her struggles to write a novel about an obscure Mexican poet and the novel in progress, while remembering the time her life when she became obsessed with him. Luiselli braids the three narrative currents into a bril- liant meditation on the nature of creation. Translation hoax. Ghosts on the subway. The demonstrative vocabulary of a clever toddler. The mix of fact and fiction on the page and in the mind. With her first novel, Luiselli has established herself as a brilliant explorer of voice, self, and art.”—Josh Cook, Porter Square Books, Cambridge, MA

“Someone look out for: The best of all possible debuts…I'm completely captivated by the beauty of the paragraphs, the elegance the prose, the joy in the written word and the literary sense of this author.”—Enrique Vila-Matas

“As spare, strange and beautiful as the Ezra Pound lines from which it takes its name, Faces in the Crowd is a first novel born out of the idea of disappearing. Its author, however, the 28-year-old Mexican writer Valeria Luiselli, is going to have to get used to her own visibility: the book confirms her as an extraordinary new literary talent.”—Daily Telegraph

“Luiselli’s novel stands apart from most Latin American fiction . . . Faces in the Crowd signals the appearance of an exciting female voice to join a new wave of Latino writers.” —Observer

“A young Mexican author with seemingly boundless intellect . . . There are echoes of García Márquez’s Strange Pilgrims; Bolaño, Hemingway and Emily Dickinson are all freely cited. The prose has luminous touch- es.” —Guardian

"Valeria Luiselli’s Faces in the Crowd is like nothing I’ve read in a while . . . its musings on obsession and ambition are haunting, and its sense of place is fantastic." —Electric Literature

“‘[Faces in the Crowd delivers] a torrent of warmth, humour and life. . . .The lead character, a hardworking young mother, is obsessed with an obscure Mexican poet. As a narrator she is so distinctive and power- fully drawn you can’t help but be pulled in. Within a few pages I was desperate to walk the streets of Manhattan in search of obscure Mexican poets myself.”—Big Issue

“From Borges to Bolaño, there’s a strong tradition in Latin American fiction of writing about writers, and this sexy, surreal debut follows suit. . .[in Faces in the Crowd] you get a multi-level satire on literary fame as well as the joy of a livewire imagination uninhibited by the demands of plot.’”—Metro

"Certainly . . . this beautiful book is not something you’ll forget."—*The Girl Who Ate Books*

“In just 148 pages Faces in the Crowd works through a complex and self-aware explora- tion of form and ideas.” —The Literateur

Faces in the Crowd is the simulacrum of a novel that is not being written; it is not a novel of ghosts, it is the ghost of a novel. Wonderful.” —PEN Atlas blog Faces in the Crowd presents itself as a remarkably confident novel from two first- timers. Confident in its handling, by a debut novelist of the ambitious ideas that crackle through its voices, in its complex structure and the daring intimacy of its field of vi- sion. And confident in its debut translator Christina McSweeney’s mastery of lan- guage: sometimes sharp-edged, sometimes playful and consistently effective.”—Independent

“This Mexican-born writer’s first novel grapples with something that permeates so much of the imaginative landscape: the battle between fantasy and reality. This theme is mapped out in a story that binds our narrator, an unhappily married mother of two living in Mexico City, and the Mexican poet Gilberto Owen, to a point where their two worlds crumble into each other like shifting sands ... Luiselli’s writing is full of verve, yet it has a mournful quality that anchors an otherwise almost supernatural world.” —Irish Times

“The Mexican writer Valeria Luiselli has been getting a lot of publicity, not least for her youth and looks but Faces in the Crowd will in time be remembered for its own beauty, and not just of its author . . . As this wistful novel progresses, the stories of the two characters blend and merge into one. It is a poetically realised and fragile portrait of the fracturing nature of urban life, of overheated New York apartments and the strangeness of ordinary human interactions, or cats curling up and trees dying and the jolts and accelerations of the subway.”—Spectator

About the Author

Valeria Luiselli was born in Mexico City in 1983 and grew up in South Africa. Her novel and essays have been translated into many languages, and her work has appeared in such publications as the New York Times, Granta, and McSweeney's. Some of her projects include a ballet libretto for choreographer Christopher Wheeldon, performed by the New York City Ballet in Lincoln Center in 2010; a pedestrian sound installation for the Serpentine Gallery in London; and a novella in installments for workers in a juice factory in Mexico. She lives in New York City.

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