$12.76

$15.95

Faces in the Crowd

A novel by Valeria Luiselli

May 13, 2014 • 5.25 x 8.5 • 154 pages • 978-1-56689-354-1

A young mother in Mexico City, captive to a past that both overwhelms and liberates her, and a house she cannot abandon nor fully occupy, writes a novel of her days as a translator living in New York.

A young translator, adrift in Harlem, is desperate to translate and publish the works of Gilberto Owen, an obscure Mexican poet who lived in Harlem during the 1920s, and whose ghostly presence haunts her in the city’s subways. And Gilberto Owen, dying in Philadelphia in the 1950s, convinced he is slowly disappearing, recalls his heyday decades before, his friendships with Nella Larsen, Louis Zukofsky, and Federico Garcia Lorca, and the young woman in a red coat he saw in the windows of passing trains. As the voices of the narrators overlap and merge, they drift into one single stream, an elegiac evocation of love and loss.

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 publications including the New York Times, Granta, and McSweeney’s. Some of her recent projects include a ballet libretto for the 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.


Thanks to a 2013 ADA Access Improvement Grant administered by VSA Minnesota for the Metropolitan Regional Arts Council, this title is also formatted for screen readers which make text accessible to the blind and visually impaired. To purchase this title for use with a screen reader please call (612) 338-0125 or email us at info@coffeehousepress.org.

Reviews

“Valeria Luiselli’s lovely and eccentric first novel is . . . peppered with arresting imagery.” —New York Times

“Luiselli’s haunting debut novel . . . erodes the concrete borders of everyday life with a beautiful, melancholy contemplation of disappearance. This elegant novel speaks to the transience of reality. The elusive strands of the young woman and Owen’s narratives intertwine and blur together as Luiselli plays with the idea of time and identity with grace and intuition.” —Publishers Weekly, boxed review

“A lovely and mysterious first novel. . . . The multilayered book she has devised brings freshness and excitement to such complex inquiries.” —Wall Street Journal

“Throughout Faces in the Crowd, Luiselli crafts beautiful sentences, while gleefully thumbing her nose at novelistic conventions. All that makes her an exciting and essential voice on the Latin American literary landscape, as further evidenced by the nonfiction collection her U.S. publisher, Coffee House Press, is simultaneously releasing with her essays in Sidewalks are a wonderful contribution to the long tradition by which authors re-imagine their cities as dream-like spaces created for them to wander around, daydream and discover.” —Los Angeles Times

“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

“If every word, for her, has the shadow of two others behind it, and if every city in which she lives carries the ghostly afterimage of all the other cities she has known—as well as the voices of the writers she has researched upon her arrival—then her books become all the more enthralling for the multiplicity they champion. . . . The great beauty of her art is seeing all her contrasting stories collapse or blend or combine into an unexpected whole.” —Los Angeles Review of Books

“Valeria Luiselli draws readers assuredly into a meditation on time, place and identity as if she were expertly kneading dough.” Star Tribune

“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

“Today, she’s one of the hottest authors around. Her first work, Faces in the Crowd, and its companion essay collection, Sidewalks, are both hits with critics.” Ozy

“A mother in Mexico City starts writing a novel, and then the novel sort of becomes her life. (Pair with strong coffee.)” —Bustle

“Luiselli delivers a telling image of modern time.” —Literature and Arts of the Americas

Faces in the Crowd is a scaffolding that bounds the empty spaces into which the writer and the reader of the novel can insert their imagination. . . . It is empty attention, if not the amazement, of the read and the writer.” —Electric Literature

“Valeria Luiselli’s swirling, layered novel, Faces in the Crowd, shares this ‘tell what it was like’ quality.” Missouri Review

“Well-crafted, playful even as it touches on the very serious. . . . [Faces in the Crowd is] an impressively substantial work, in every sense.” Complete Review

Faces in the Crowd is one of those rare books that manages to upend one’s idea of what might be possible in fiction.” —Electric Literature

“[Faces in the Crowd] paints a truly believable and empathetic and insightful portrait of life. It grabs hold of and dissects and analyzes life in all of its multifaceted glory and misery and whatever falls in between.” Three Percent

“‘Valeria Luiselli’s extraordinary debut novel Faces in the Crowd signals the arrival of major talent,’ said Jeremy Ellis of Houston’s Brazos Bookstore. ‘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.’” —American Booksellers Association

“‘Prose is for those with a builder’s spirt.’ What a nice line. And what good fortune that we now have Valeria Luiselli’s prose in the States.” —Propeller Magazine

“There’s an urgency to this book that I found both challenging and engaging—as the reality of the narrative crumbled, and as the characters became their own ghosts, the feeling of loss that Luiselli is trying to explore began to resemble my own.” American Microreviews and Interivews

“Valeria Luiselli’s debut—translated from the Spanish by Christina MacSweeney—is a book whose ingenious formal structure preserves this strenuous negotiation between the contrary impulses to expose and hide away.” —­­Make Literary Magazine

“Her fiction is shaped by sophisticated plotting, playful characterization, and mesmerizing momentum. Reminiscent of Roberto Bolano and Andre Gide, Luiselli navigates a dynamic, ghostly world between worlds, crisscrossing fact and fiction. Few books are as sure to baffle, surprise, and reward readers as the strange, shifty experiment that is Luiselli’s fiction debut.” Booklist

“This is just one of three stories that weaves its way through Valeria Luiselli’s masterful Faces in the Crowd, a novel in which people die many times just to wake up right where they left off.” —The Paris Review

“Fragmentary and fantastical. . . . Emotional density, laser-cut prose, self-conscience autobiography mixed with invention, and jigsaw-puzzle storylines that gradually assemble themselves to reveal an unpredictable whole.” —Wall Street Journal

Faces in the Crowd by Valeria Luiselli is a masterfully structured meta-fictional story. . . . This is a novel about writing at its core, that’s intriguing and entertaining through all its structual complexities.”­ —The Review Lab

“In publishing [Faces in the Crowd], a novel about a translator living in Mexico City, and Luiselli’s superb collection of essays, Sidewalks, Coffee House has helped push into the world a great writer who everybody should know about.” —Flavorwire

“Luiselli’s debut grabs three strands of narration and twists them into a single, psychogeographical thread. Imagine Teju Cole’s Open City or Ben Lerner’s Leaving the Atocha Station; as a debut novel, it’s that good.” —Flavorwire

Faces in the Crowd is the greatest of all things: a novel meant to be reread.”­ —The Rumpus

“[Luiselli’s] writing blurs the line between life and death across three narratives that overlap in content and time. . . . You’ll fall into the pages and believe the connections between people-ghosts or not-to be true.” —Hazel & Wren

“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

“This is one of those books that I fell for after the first six pages. . . . Luiselli handles this stream-of-consciousness style with charm and mastery, making the story of love, identity, art, and ghosts unforgettable.” —Book Riot

“[Faces in the Crowd was] so surprising and so exhilarating that I read it twice during the past week.” —Seeing the World Through Books

“Luiselli sketches a rich and enthralling world.” —Public Books

“Luiselli’s spare and probing essays touch on a variety of subjects and are unified by a capacious imagination.” —SFGate

“Debut novel [Faces in the Crowd] has gotten a ton of praise in all the right places, and the reviews have piqued my curiosity.” —Barnes & Noble Book Blog

“Valeria Luiselli’s Faces in the Crowd is one of the most mesmerizing debut novels in recent memory.” —Diesel Bookstore

“Valeria Luiselli, a young writer from Mexico City, who shows here an incredibly nuanced control over details and time.” —Green Apple on the Park Bookstore

“A shining star of 2014. . . . Brilliant and beautiful.” —Brazos Bookstore

“I found myself dog-earing pages throughout to go back and make notes on . . . until I realized I was marking pretty much every single page.” —Brazos Bookstore

“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

“This book is pretty short and fueled by cigarettes and coffee, so you’ll probably motor through it and want some more. You’re in luck because Luiselli wrote a fantastic book of essays, Sidewalks, released at the same time. Go on a bender and read them back to back. You won’t regret it.”­ —Brooke, Brazos Bookstore

“I’d loved every page of Valeria Luiselli’s novel. . . . Faces in the Crowd highlights the question [of identity] more vividly, more urgently, than any novel I’ve read in recent years.” —Full Stop

“One of the most original new voices in translation.” —Words Without Borders

“[In Faces in the Crowd] three timelines snuggle up alongside one another in a neat, poetic fashion. . . . This feels like a book which has been woven as much as written.”­­ —Doe-eyed Critic

“Perhaps Luiselli’s true gift is that these essays still manage to be filled with a sense of hope . . . [and] an ability to find the beauty in destruction, acceptance in the face of crumbling cities and inadequate words.” —Publik/Private

“Valeria Luiselli’s hallucinatory novel follows a young academic drawn to the life of the early 20th-century poet Gilbert Owen. What begins as obsession takes a surreal turn, and the two narratives begin to influence and haunt each other.” —OZY

“Luiselli’s debut novel is brilliantly conceived and executed examination of the ways the past infiltrates the present and how art bleeds into life.” —Racked

“An outstanding, cerebral read that bridges the gap between poetry and prose and clearly positions the author as one of the freshest, most exciting new voices emerging from Latin American literature.” —Entropy

Faces in the Crowd is a wonderful piece of writing, elegant, poignant and light when it needs to be.” —Tony’s Reading List

“In its supremely casual and confident treatment of Self and Other, of Fact and Fiction—the way it makes non-issues out of both—Faces in the Crowd is something new, something revolutionary.” —Fiction Advocate

“Translasted from Spanish, Faces in the Crowd by Valeria Luiselli has a lyrical cadence to it. It moves in hazy, dreamlike moments rather than scenes. . . . In Luiselli’s narrative experimentation, we find gravitas in her character’s confusion.” —Grantland

“Everybody should read Faces in the Crowd. Read it for Luiselli’s language. Read it for the masterly translation by MacSweeney. . . . More people need to read Faces in the Crowd and Sidewalks.” —Three Percent

“Audacious, conceptually cutting edge.” —Three Percent

“Valeria Luiselli’s Faces in the Crowd is one of the year’s most striking and cleverly written novels, a debut that heralds the arrival of a promising literary voice.” —Largehearted Boy

“Luiselli’s fascinating novel is quite occupied with the hidden pauses between paragraphs. . . . Faces in the Crowd is very much a cousin to Jenny Offill’s excellent novel, Dept. of Speculation, in a way that it coaxes the reader to fixate on the asterisks between the short sections.” —Reluctant Habits

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 brilliant 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

“Luiselli weaves together her own philosophy . . . with the novel’s predilection for subterranean encounters in a way that feels deft, not contrived.” —Quarterly Conversation

“Masterful. Excellent translation.” —The Wandering Bibliophile

“[Faces in the Crowd] contemplates existential angst like a 21st Century version of Nausea." —KCET

“I was delighted and surprised, and I’m recommending [Faces in the Crowd] to everyone.” Michael Silverblatt, KCRW

“[Judges cited] the exceptional promise it demonstrates as a debut novel.” Three Percent

Faces in the Crowd, beyond its gorgeous writing and superb composition, is modest yet striking, measured yet salient.” Powells.com