Valeria Luiselli wins € 100,000 Dublin Literary Award for Lost Children Archive

Mexican author Valeria Luiselli won the Dublin Literary Award 2021 for Lost Children Archive.

The novel, the author’s first written in English, follows an artist couple on a road trip from New York to Arizona with their two children in the summer heat. As their parents’ relationship deteriorates, children try to make sense of both their family’s crisis and the larger crisis engulfing news: the stories of thousands of children trying to cross the border with them. United States but being detained or lost in the desert path.

The winner was announced online today by Dublin Mayor Hazel Chu at the opening of the Dublin International Literature Festival, which runs through May 30. The presentation took place at the Irish Consulate in New York, where Luiselli lives. Consul General Ciarán Madden and Colm Tóibín, who won the award in 2006 for The Master, presented the award to Luiselli on behalf of his sponsor, Dublin City Council.

Accepting his award, Luiselli spoke passionately about the importance of literature: “I can say, without a shadow of a doubt, that without books – without sharing in the company of the human experiences of other writers – we cannot. couldn’t have made it through those months. If our minds have found a revival, if we have found the strength to continue, if we have maintained a sense of enthusiasm for life, it is thanks to the worlds that the books have given us. Each time, we have found solace in the companions who live on our shelves. “

The jury, which is headed by Professor Chris Morash of Trinity College Dublin, and includes Jan Carson, David James Karashima, Dr Rita Sakr, Dr Martín Veiga and Enda Wyley, said: “Although all the books in the This year’s shortlist were outstanding examples of what the novel can do in the 21st century, the judges felt that one book in particular pushed the boundaries of contemporary fiction, while telling a compelling story.

“The archives of the lost children of Valeria Luiselli manage to do a lot of things at once. At its most basic level, it’s the story of a couple and their children driving across the United States from New York to the southwestern border with Mexico. Parents, who are phonographs, want to record absences; she, children who were lost crossing the border, he Native Americans who lived in the region.

“However, woven into this framework are reflections on sound, on silence, a magical and realistic story read by children, and artefacts, an entire chapter of which is made from Polaroid photographs. The result is a richly textured novel that reminds us that the novel is always capable of being pushed in new directions. As the title indicates, it is about the novel as an archive, as a repository of memory. “

Tóibín said: “The Lost Children Archive tells an old story, the one Cervantes told. . . and Cormac McCarthy, the story of what happens to the human mind on the road, how a long journey jeopardizes what was stable and agreed upon.

“Luiselli wrote a novel in which stories wind up. She rendered her characters with amazing grace and insight, and through them she drew a picture of what they were headed for throughout the book, the disputed place, where the old rules don’t apply. , for which a new form of archive is needed. “

The Lord Mayor, who is also the sponsor of the award, said: “This year’s Dublin Literary Award winner is a very important book, with significant themes around family and the things that matter most to us as a family. than human beings. I am very proud of our city for giving this opportunity to libraries around the world to submit the books that have captured the reader’s attention the most. The award helps us get to know each other and understand the world better, thanks to the knowledge provided by literature. “

Owen Keegan, CEO of Dublin City Council, said: “I would like to warmly congratulate Valeria Luiselli on winning the Dublin Literary Award. I am extremely proud that Dublin City Council is sponsoring this international award, which brings world literature to Dublin, and it was especially important to be able to contact international library colleagues to make the award a reality this year.

Luiselli was born in Mexico City and raised in South Korea, South Africa and India. Lost Children Archive, which won the 2020 Rathbones Folio Award, is published by 4th Estate in the UK and Vintage Books in the US. With a prize of € 100,000, the prize is the largest prize in the world for a single novel published in English. Luiselli is the first Mexican writer and the fifth woman to win the prestigious award in 26 years of history. Acclaimed fiction writer and documentary, she is the author of the novels Faces in the Crowd and The Story of My Teeth, which won the LA Times Book Prize for Fiction 2016; the Trottoirs essay collection; and tell me how it ends: an essay in forty questions. She won two Los Angeles Times awards and an American Book Award, and was twice nominated for the National Book Critics Circle Award and the Kirkus Prize.

Uniquely, the award receives its nominations from public libraries in cities around the world and recognizes both writers and translators. Lost Children Archive was nominated by the Biblioteca Vila De Gràcia, a public library in Barcelona. The winning novel was chosen from a shortlist of six novels. The others were Daughter, Woman, Other by Bernardine Evaristo; Apeirogon by Colum McCann; Hurricane Season by Fernanda Melchor; On Earth, we are briefly magnificent by Ocean Vuong; and The Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead. Last year’s winner was Anna Burns for Milkman.

As a conclusion to ILFDublin 2021, Luiselli will discuss his novel with Colm Toíbín and answer questions from the audience. Book your ticket at

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