Acclaimed Mexican-born author Valeria Luiselli explores the stories of children and immigration
Join celebrated Mexican-born author and 2019 MacArthur Fellow Valeria Luiselli in an exclusive event streamed live from the author’s home on Thursday, April 6, at 7:30 p.m. Luiselli’s recent works synthesize her experiences as a court interpreter for unaccompanied child migrants caught in the labyrinth of U.S. immigration policy. These experiences figure prominently in her latest novel, “Lost Children Archive.”
Presented by the Moss Arts Center in partnership with the Department of English Visiting Writer Series, the virtual event features a reading from the author, along with an interview moderated by Carmen Giménez Smith, Virginia Tech professor of English and 2019 Guggenheim fellow, and a question-and-answer session with the audience. Ticketholders have access to this “HomeStage” series event as it happens, and for seven days following the event. The event is part of the Moss Arts Center’s 2020-21 season theme, "Flight and Refuge.”
Born in Mexico City and growing up in South Korea, South Africa, and India, Luiselli writes with dry humor and deftly controlled prose in both Spanish and English, often wrestling with the complexity of translation while drawing from an unusually broad range of Latin American, American, and European literary traditions. She forges new forms of writing that interweave multiple voices — those of other writers, readers, translators, and the children she interviews — and poses profound questions about the ways lives of others are documented.
In her nonfiction work, “Tell Me How It Ends: An Essay in Forty Questions” (2017), Luiselli demonstrates the impossibility of giving coherent, narrative form to the harrowing and fragmented statements that immigration intake questionnaires elicit from children facing deportation.
Named a New York Times 2019 “Top 10 Book of the Year,” “Lost Children Archive” provides a fictionalized account of her own family’s road trip from New York to the U.S.-Mexico borderlands, with stories of the unfolding Central American migration crisis nested into the narrative. Imagining her own children running away to aid children experiencing a dangerous migration from Mexico, Luiselli sparks compassion with the question, “what if they were my children?”
She is the winner of two Los Angeles Times Book Prizes, the Carnegie Medal, and an American Book Award, and has been nominated for the National Book Critics Circle Award, the Kirkus Prize, and the Booker Prize. She has been a National Book Foundation “5 Under 35” honoree and the recipient of a Bearing Witness Fellowship from the Art for Justice Fund. Her work has appeared in the New York Times, Granta, and McSweeney's, among other publications, and has been translated into more than 20 languages. Luiselli is a writer in residence at Bard College and lives in New York City.
In addition to the April 6 event, Luiselli will lead a virtual discussion with students, faculty, and staff from Virginia Tech’s Department of English, sharing insights into her myriad approaches to writing.
Tickets are $10 for general public and free for Virginia Tech students. Tickets can be purchased online; at the Moss Arts Center's box office, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday through Friday, and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday; or by calling 540-231-5300 during box office hours.