Lost Children Archive

Lost Children Archive

A Novel

Book - 2020
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"From the two-time NBCC Finalist, a fiercely imaginative novel about a family's summer road trip across America--a journey that, with breathtaking imagery, spare lyricism, and profound humanity, probes the nature of justice and equality in America today. A mother and father set out with their kids from New York to Arizona. In their used Volvo--and with their ten-year-old son trying out his new Polaroid camera--the family is heading for the Apacheria: the region the Apaches once called home, and where the ghosts of Geronimo and Cochise might still linger. The father, a sound documentarist, hopes to gather an "inventory of echoes" from this historic, mythic place. The mother, a radio journalist, becomes consumed by the news she hears on the car radio, about the thousands of children trying to reach America but getting stranded at the southern border, held in detention centers, or being sent back to their homelands, to an unknown fate. But as the family drives farther west--through Virginia to Tennessee, across Oklahoma and Texas--we sense they are on the brink of a crisis of their own. A fissure is growing between the parents, one the children can feel beneath their feet. They are led, inexorably, to a grand, unforgettable adventure--both in the harsh desert landscape and within the chambers of their own imaginations. Told through the voices of the mother and her son, as well as through a stunning tapestry of collected texts and images--including prior stories of migration and displacement--Lost Children Archive is a story of how we document our experiences, and how we remember the things that matter to us the most. Blending the personal and the political with astonishing empathy, it is a powerful, wholly original work of fiction: exquisite, provocative, and deeply moving"--
Publisher: New York : Vintage Books, a division of Penguin Random House LLC, 2020.
Copyright Date: ©2019.
ISBN: 9780525436461
Characteristics: 361 pages, 24 unnumbered pages of plates :,illustrations (some colour), maps ;,20 cm.


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Jul 22, 2020

I thought this book was beautiful, poetic and sometimes magical. I think I read a different book than some of these commenters.

CALS_Lee Apr 09, 2020

Modernist fiction and political activism have been brought together to produce Lost Children Archive. Luiselli is the daughter of a Mexican ambassador. When the southern border crisis grew around 2014 or so, Luiselli admirably volunteered her time and efforts to help the desperate refugees trying to reach the United States navigate the US legal system. One isn't surprised to read that this novel began as a scathing essay on how refugees are treated before being put on hold and later re-worked as a modernist intertextual manuscript, in dialogue with Pound, Eliot, Woolf, and others.

In the first half of this novel of two parts, the story is told from the point of view of a mother traveling by car from NYC to the border area with her soon-to-be ex-husband and their two children. She is working on a story about the children who travel to the border alone and disappear in their attempt, wiped from the map, except sometimes as a red X marking where bodies are found in the desert. She questions her project, mirroring Luiselli herself no doubt:

"Political concern: How can a radio documentary be useful in helping more undocumented children find asylum? Aesthetic problem: On the other hand, why should a sound piece, or any other form of storytelling, for that matter, be a means to a specific end? I should know, by now, that instrumentalism, applied to any art form, is a way of guaranteeing really shitty results: light pedagogic material, moralistic young adult novels, boring art in general. Professional hesitance: But then again, isn't art for art's sake so often an absolutely ridiculous display of intellectual arrogance? Ethical concern: And why would I even think that I can or should make art with someone else's suffering?"

In part two of the story, the narration shifts to her ten year old son, who takes along his five year old sister as they run away from their parents to find some "lost children" and make their way to a location of importance to the Apache tribe, whose genocidal destruction is the focus of the husband. This section culminates in a 20 page long sentence in which his viewpoint alternates with that of a small group of lost refugee children who seem to physically emerge from a book he and the mother have been reading in a whirlwind of, what, neo-magical realism?

Overall for me it is a novel that is intellectual, produces lots to discuss, and is moderately enjoyable as a work of fiction.

Mar 24, 2020

Feb-March 2020

Mar 14, 2020

Barack Obama recommendation

Feb 07, 2020

I don't know what to say but perhaps the times we live in have allowed us to expect this sorry mess to be described as a novel. I'll carry on trying but it seems to be painting by numbers mixed with some bizarre notion of profundity. I like nothing more than a mixed media approach to the novel but this is reportage and navel gazing and an ill-formed oddity. Very disappointed.

PimaLib_SWBooks Feb 06, 2020

This book was submitted for consideration for the 2019 Southwest Books of the Year list in the Fiction category!

Jan 13, 2020

NYT 2019 Top 10

Dec 30, 2019

Inspired by the experiences of desperate children crossing the desert to get to US and the history of the Apache warriors making their last stand, framed by a fictionalized version of a road trip this Mexican born writer took from New York to Cochise County with her husband and two kids. For the first half , narrated by an unnamed woman, we are with the family in the Volvo wagon, diners and rented cabins while the parent patiently and loving execute the task of caring for the children while worrying about the “lost children” and giving history lessons of the Apache. The structure is around 7 boxes of material the family has taken with them, 4 for the husband, 1 for each the wife the kids. The boxes are inventoried at the beginning of the chapters with lists of books and other literary materials bearing on the parents' research. This is how the author references her intensely allusive prose. It contains a book within the book "elegies for Lost children" purportedly by an Italian author but is descriptive of the struggle of the lost children in current border crisis.
The second part narrated by the ten-year-old boy contains a single sentence that runs on for 20 pages. An astonishing work of literature.

Nov 24, 2019

Top 10 Books of 2019 New York Times

The Mexican author’s third novel — her first to be written in English — unfolds against a backdrop of crisis: of children crossing borders, facing death, being detained, being deported unaccompanied by their guardians. The novel centers on a couple and their two children (all unnamed), who are taking a road trip from New York City to the Mexican border; the couple’s marriage is on the brink of collapse as they pursue independent ethnographic research projects and the woman tries to help a Mexican immigrant find her daughters, who’ve gone missing in their attempt to cross the border behind her. The brilliance of Luiselli’s writing stirs rage and pity, but what might one do after reading such a novel? Acutely sensitive to these misgivings, Luiselli has delivered a madly allusive, self-reflexive, experimental book, one that is as much about storytellers and storytelling as it is about lost children.

Nov 06, 2019

Oh, spare me. Way too wordy.

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