22. ilb 07. - 17.09.2022

Valeria Luiselli

Portrait Valeria Luiselli
© Diego Berruecos

Valeria Luiselli was born in Mexico City in 1983. Due to her father’s work, she grew up in the USA, Costa Rica, South Korea, and South Africa. She returned to Mexico at the age of sixteen, studied philosophy, and then moved to New York to commit herself to contemporary dance. She did her PhD in Comparative Literature at Columbia University, taught literature at Bard College, and was a librettist for the New York Ballet.

Luiselli is also a celebrated author of fiction and non-fiction alike. Her literary essay volume »Papeles falsos« (2010; Eng. »Sidewalks«) contains a collection of personal texts from a tour around the world in which the author reflects on everyday life and encounters the ghosts of literary history on her expeditions through the city. Luiselli’s novel »Los ingrávidos« (2011; Eng. »Faces in the Crowd«) tells the story of a young woman who is writing a novel and increasingly loses herself in the narrative of her own past – for example, how she tried to convince a publisher to publish the work of the Mexican poet Gilberto Owen. Her narrative voice eventually blends with that of Owen, who then tells of his life and how he feels haunted by the ghostly appearance of a young woman. For the novel »La historia de mis dientes« (2014; Eng. »The Story of my Teeth«, 2015), Luiselli was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award and the Best Translated Book Award and won the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for Best Fiction and the Premio Metropolis Azul in Canada. The novel is about an inventive auctioneer who wants to replace every one of his ugly teeth and decides to earn the money by inventing an original backstory for every object on offer. Luiselli’s novel follows a creative process that fosters the cult of memories surrounding literary celebrities. In her 2017 nonfiction novel »Tell Me How It Ends: An Essay in 40 Questions«, Luiselli drew upon her experience as a volunteer interpreter for Latin American migrants in the USA. In her second novel »Lost Children Archive« (2019) a family on a long road trip unexpectedly witnesses dramatic events involving children from Central America and Mexico. The novel won the 2019 Folio Prize, the 2020 Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Fiction, was a 2019 Kirkus Prize finalist and was longlisted for the Booker Prize, the Women’s Prize for Fiction, the Aspen Words Literary Prize and the Simpson Literary Prize.

Luiselli’s writing has appeared in many publications, including »The New York Times«, »Granta«, and »McSweeneyʼs«. She has also created a literacy program for girls in a detention center in upstate New York. She is the recipient of a 2020 Guggenheim Fellowship and a MacArthur Fellowship. Her work is published in twenty five languages. She now lives in Mexico City and New York as an editor, journalist, and lecturer.