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 Weekly, Vanity 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 Times, NPR, The Guardian, Publisher’s Weekly, Kirkus 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
An archive presupposes an archivist, a hand that collects and classifies.
To leave is to die a little.
To arrive is never to arrive.
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.
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.
- “Lost Children Archive by Valeria Luiselli Review – Border Crossings.” (new window) The Guardian. 15 March 2019.
- “Valeria Luiselli Traces the Youngest Casualties of the Border Crisis.” (new window) The New York Times. 6 March 2019.
- “Writing About Writing About the Border Crisis.” (new window) The New Yorker. 28 January 2019.
Valeria Luiselli in Conversation with Aminatta Forna (new window) | October 20, 2020