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Lost Children Archive

Length: 11 hrs and 16 mins
4.4 out of 5 stars (82 ratings)

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Summary

Longlisted for the Women's Prize for Fiction 2019

Longlisted for the Booker Prize 2019

The moving, powerful and urgent English-language debut from one of the brightest young stars in world literature

Suppose you and Pa were gone, and we were lost. What would happen then?

A family in New York packs the car and sets out on a road trip. A mother, a father, a boy and a girl, they head southwest, to the Apacheria, the regions of the US which used to be Mexico. They drive for hours through desert and mountains. They stop at diners when they’re hungry and sleep in motels when it gets dark. The little girl tells surreal knock knock jokes and makes them all laugh. The little boy educates them all and corrects them when they’re wrong. The mother and the father are barely speaking to each other.

Meanwhile, thousands of children are journeying north, travelling to the US border from Central America and Mexico. A grandmother or aunt has packed a backpack for them, putting in a Bible, one toy, some clean underwear. They have been met by a coyote: a man who speaks to them roughly and frightens them. They cross a river on rubber tubing and walk for days, saving whatever food and water they can. Then they climb to the top of a train and travel precariously in the open container on top. Not all of them will make it to the border.

In a breathtaking feat of literary virtuosity, Lost Children Archive intertwines these two journeys to create a masterful novel full of echoes and reflections - a moving, powerful, urgent story about what it is to be human in an inhuman world.

©2019 Valeria Luiselli (P)2019 HarperCollins Publishers

Critic reviews

"Thrilling...a rollicking tale that contains within it an extremely disciplined exercise in political empathy." (Harper’s)

"A novelist of a rare vitality." (Ali Smith)

"Powerful, eloquent. Juxtaposing rich poetic prose with direct storytelling and brutal reality and alternative narratives with photos, documents, poems, maps and music, Luiselli explores what holds a family and society together and what pulls them apart. Superb." (Publishers Weekly)

What listeners say about Lost Children Archive

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars

Such an important book for such a time as this.

This book is beautifully written, utterly disturbing and exceptionally important in this world of refugee phobia.

2 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

A tour de force

This may sound like hyperbole but it really isn’t. It is a genuine masterpiece, as a story in its own right and as a recording. It is both current and timeless, personal and epic, realistic and allegorical, sentimental and clinical. None of these are easy balances to strike but here it’s made to look so easy. I wholeheartedly recommend it, and it’s one of the best literary purchases I’ve made in a while. I don’t know if it’ll win The Booker Prize, or even if it’ll make the shortlist. But it absolutely deserves to. And I’m glad it made the long list because I probably wouldn’t have read it otherwise, and my life would have been just that little less rich.

5 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Good narration but I found this tough going

Good narration but a book and plot that endlessly folds in on itself, echoes of echoes of echoes. It works up to a point but ultimately lost me

2 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

great read

absorbing, lyrical, important, engaging, challenging, prescient, not flawless but then is any book really flawless.

1 person found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Lose Yourself In This Life Story

The story of a couple coming together, inheriting and having a child. Working with a passion for sound and language the family make their long way across America, so close in their car and yet generations apart. All the time, the parallels of people, adult and children, past and present making their own journeys to the border. Ever seeking, ever enduring the torturous paths leading to their dreams. Always compelling: always unveiling the trials of life. Powerful writing that has left me inquisitive, wondering and wrestling with my thoughts.

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  • NR
  • 19-04-20

interesting and emotional.

great narration of an original and interesting storyline. loved the 4 main characters. they had real personalities

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Stunningly brave

A totally immersive experience. The writer manages to pull off combining a family road trip with echoes of past present and future lost peoples. Heart wrenchingly brutal in its approach to Mexican migrant children lost on the journey to the U.S border.

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Sublime: moving, beautiful & important

I was blown away by this - the writing is beautiful, the story is moving & important & the performance- with the author reading for the point of view if the narrator, for most of the book, is intimate.

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Karen McCarthy / Brenda Dass
  • 23-10-19

So engaging, but too long

I think this had the potential to be a masterpiece. Luiselli’s capacity to capture children’s voices is breathtaking. I think it needed to be cut by at least a third though. The length diminished its power.