Valeria Luiselli

Valeria Luiselli headshot

Valeria Luiselli is an award-winning novelist and essayist. Her most recent novel, Lost Children Archive was a finalist for the 2019 Kirkus Prize for Fiction and long-listed for the 2019 Booker Prize, and has been named a best book of 2019 by Entertainment WeeklyVanity Fair, Vulture, and Time. Lost Children Archive sits beside Tell Me How It Ends: An Essay in 40 Questions, Luiselli’s ground-breaking book-length essay that has become a touchstone text for those looking to facilitate meaningful and informed conversations around the immigration crisis. Luiselli is also the author of the novels The Story of My Teeth and Faces in the Crowd, and Sidewalks, an essay collection. She is the recipient of a 2019 Macarthur “Genius Grant” and her works have been recognized by the National Book Critics Circle, The National Book Foundation, The New York TimesNPRThe GuardianPublisher’s WeeklyKirkus Reviews, BuzzFeed, Huffington Post, and the San Francisco Chronicle, among others. She is a writer in residence at Bard College in New York. 

From Lost Children Archive

Part I

Family Soundscape


An archive presupposes an archivist, a hand that collects and classifies.

—Arlette Farge

To leave is to die a little.

To arrive is never to arrive.

—Migrant prayer


Mouths open to the sun, they sleep. Boy and girl, foreheads pearled with sweat, cheeks red and streaked white with dry spit. They occupy the entire space in the back of the car, spread out, limbs offering, heavy and placid. From the copilot seat, I glance back to check on them every so often, then turn around again to study the map. We advance in the slow lava of traffic toward the city limits, across the GW Bridge, and merge onto the interstate. An airplane passes above us and leaves a straight long scar on the palate of the cloudless sky. Behind the wheel, my husband adjusts his hat, dries his forehead with the back of his hand.

Family Lexicon

I don’t know what my husband and I will say to each of our children one day. I’m not sure which parts of our story we might each choose to pluck and edit out for them, and which ones we’ll shuffle around and insert back in to produce a final version—even though plucking, shuffling, and editing sounds is probably the best summary of what my husband and I do for a living. But the children will ask, because ask is what children do. And we’ll need to tell them a beginning, a middle, and an end. We’ll need to give them an answer, tell them a proper story.

Continue reading Lost Children Archive at Penguin Random House.



Valeria Luiselli in Conversation with Aminatta Forna | October 20, 2020