Dublin Literary Award Winner 2021: Valeria Luiselli
Published on 20th May 2021
Mexican author Valeria Luiselli has won the 2021 Dublin Literary Award, sponsored by Dublin City Council, for her novel Lost Children Archive (published by 4th Estate (Harper Collins) in the UK and Vintage Books (Alfred A. Knopf) in the USA. With prize money of €100,000, the Award is the world’s largest prize for a single novel published in English. Valeria Luiselli is the first writer from Mexico and the fifth woman to claim the prestigious award in its twenty-six year history.
Accepting her award, winner Valeria Luiselli spoke passionately about the importance of literature now more than ever: "If our spirits have found renewal, if we have found strength to carry on, if we have maintained a sense of enthusiasm for life, it is thanks to the worlds that books have given us. Each time, we found solace in the companions that live in our bookshelves."
Speaking at the winner announcement, Lord Mayor and Patron of the Award, Hazel Chu, remarked: "I am very proud of our city for providing this opportunity for the libraries of the world to nominate the books that have resonated most with readers. The Award helps us to learn about each other and reach a greater understanding of the world, through the insight which literature provides."
Luiselli was born in Mexico City and grew up in South Korea, South Africa and India. An acclaimed writer of both fiction and nonfiction, she is the author of the novels Faces in the Crowd and The Story of My Teeth, which won the 2016 LA Times Book Prize for Fiction; the essay collection Sidewalks; and Tell Me How It Ends: An Essay in Forty Questions. She is the winner of two Los Angeles Times Book Prizes and an American Book Award, and has twice been nominated for the National Book Critics Circle Award and the Kirkus 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 twenty languages. Lost Children Archive which won the 2020 Rathbones Folio Prize is her first novel written in English. She lives in New York City.
Lost Children Archive
In Luiselli’s fiercely imaginative follow-up to the American Book Award-winning Tell Me How It Ends, an artist couple set out with their two children on a road trip from New York to Arizona in the heat of summer. As the family travels west, the bonds between them begin to fray: a fracture is growing between the parents, one the children can almost feel beneath their feet. Through ephemera such as songs, maps and a Polaroid camera, the children try to make sense of both their family’s crisis and the larger one engulfing the news: the stories of thousands of kids trying to cross the southwestern border into the United States but getting detained—or lost in the desert along the way. A breath-taking feat of literary virtuosity, Lost Children Archive is timely, compassionate, subtly hilarious, and formally inventive—a powerful, urgent story about what it is to be human in an inhuman world.
Borrow the Book
Copies of the winning title, the shortlisted novels and the full list of longlisted novels for the 2021 award are available to borrow from Dublin City libraries and from public libraries throughout Ireland. Readers can also borrow the winning novel on BorrowBox: eBooks and eAudiobooks for limited periods by way of digital loans. Further details about the Award and the winning novel are available on the Award website.
The 2021 Judging Panel, which is led by Professor Chris Morash of Trinity College Dublin, and includes Jan Carson, David James Karashima, Dr. Rita Sakr, Dr. Martín Veiga and Enda Wyley, commented: "Valeria Luiselli’s Lost Children Archive manages to do many things at once...The parents, who are sound recordists, want to make recordings of absences; she, of the children who have been lost crossing the border, he of the Native Americans who used to live in the area. However, woven into this framework are reflections on sound, on silence, a magic realist story read by the children, and artefacts, including an entire chapter made of Polaroid photographs."
Lost Children Archive was nominated by Biblioteca Vila De Gràcia, a public library in Barcelona, Spain. The winning novel was chosen from a shortlist of six novels by writers from Ireland, Mexico, the UK and the USA.
As a fitting finale to ILFDublin 2021, Valeria Luiselli will be welcomed to the festival, for an in-depth conversation about her novel, with previous DUBLIN Literary Award winner Colm Toíbín, and to take questions from the audience. Complimentary tickets will be released on Thursday 20 May at 1pm following the announcement of the winning title. Book events.