Two weeks ago I traveled to Miami for a brief 36-hour stay for work, which meant I had about 14 hours of airport/airplane time to kill. More than enough time to read Valeria Luiselli’s short novel, Faces in the Crowd, which I had been carrying around for a month in my tote. It is Luiselli’s first novel and I honestly did not expect to like it as much as I did, I only wish I had read it in its original Spanish.
The story intermingles the female narrator’s current life as a wife and mother living in Mexico City writing a novel, her earlier life as a translator in New York and obsession to publish the work of a Mexican poet, which becomes the male narrator, who is in ill health and also looks back to his youth during the Harlem Renaissance.
There are no chapters. There are short paragraphs, sometimes just a line or two per storyline and it skips narrators around in no specific order. It is funny, intimate, melancholic and a couple times flirts with magical realism. I thoroughly enjoyed Luiselli’s style of writing and already ordered her second book Sidewalks or Papeles Falsos, it’s original Spanish title.