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Sidewalks

By Valeria Luiselli, Translated by Christina MacSweeney, Introduction by Cees Nooteboom

About the Book

Grantland Book of the Year
Vol. 1 Brooklyn, A Year of Favorites, Jason Diamond
Book Riot, 2014’s Must-Read Books from Indie Presses

""Valeria Luiselli is a writer of formidable talent, destined to be an important voice in Latin American letters. Her vision and language are precise, and the power of her intellect is in evidence on every page.""—Daniel Alarcón

""I'm completely captivated by the beauty of the paragraphs, the elegance of the prose, the joy in the written word, and the literary sense of this author.""—Enrique Vilas-Matas

Valeria Luiselli is an evening cyclist; a literary tourist in Venice, searching for Joseph Brodsky's tomb; an excavator of her own artifacts, unpacking from a move. In essays that are as companionable as they are ambitious, she uses the city to exercise a roving, meandering intelligence, seeking out the questions embedded in our human landscapes.

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 performed by the New York City Ballet in Lincoln Center; 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.

Reviews


"Together with [Luiselli's novel] Faces in the Crowd, 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

"[Luiselli's] subtexts become almost a guide—asides we might hear from the city itself, whispering to us as we walk of bicycle through it, speaking of its secrets. So it is with the best travel books and memoirs, those that go beyond simply recounting a journey. They allow the reader to wander with the writer; to tap into her voice and imagination."Los Angeles Review of Books

"Luiselli's writing is full of verve." Irish Times

"The disciplines conversed within Sidewalks include cartography, architecture, and urban planning; Luiselli bicycles through Mexico City, strolls the New York City streets, and visits Joseph Brodsky’s grave in Venice. These wanderings are unified by a distinctive narrative voice: pensive, questioning, always something of a stranger in a strange land." Publishers Weekly

"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

"The essays in Sidewalks don’t connect or come together, and they aren’t commenting on a single thing; what we have is the Mexico City native (the book was lovingly translated from Spanish by Christine MacSweeney) distilling observations from her walks and the thinking she does on them. Handled any other way, that sort of thing could render any book of essays tedious and ultimately boring, but Luiselli turns it into something illuminating and delightful." Flavorwire, Book of the Week

"These essays take an unhurried pace well-suited for the ambling walks and bike rides that inspired them, deepened by literary and historical asides that situate these places in a context beyond the present moment. Language holds as much significance as geography here." Publisher's Weekly

“Place, identity and the limitations of language converge in this slim collection of illuminating and incisive essays. . .[T]hese essays are more impressive in both their expansiveness and epigrammatic precision.” Kirkus Reviews

"Luiselli's spare and probing essays touch on a variety of subjects and are unified by a capacious imagination." SFGate

“Whether they are tectonic plates shifting beneath the surface of a paragraph or the double wrecking ball of the line break above and below every aphorism, the formal choices of Sidewalks are in conversation with the loud silences and composed fragmentations inherent in life and literature.”—Lapham’s Quarterly

“This book is the greatest of all things: a novel meant to be reread.”—The Rumpus

“Luiselli’s experimental essays are subdivided into brief, poignant observations that combine elements of travel writing, literary criticism and memoir. . . Places, even the absence of places, are the landscapes across which her imagination and intellect travel in this masterful collection of essays.”—Longitude