Smashing Snow Globes: A Writer On Essays, Novels And Translation Valeria Luiselli, who was born in Mexico City and lives now in Harlem, released two slim, multinational books this year: the essay collection Sidewalks and her time-jumping novel Faces in the Crowd.
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Smashing Snow Globes: A Writer On Essays, Novels And Translation

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Smashing Snow Globes: A Writer On Essays, Novels And Translation

Smashing Snow Globes: A Writer On Essays, Novels And Translation

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ARUN RATH, HOST:

As we approach the end of the year, we're featuring interviews with authors whose books we missed and wanted to bring to your attention. This week, Valeria Luiselli and her great new novel "Faces In The Crowd" - it came out in the spring, but I didn't read it until a few weeks ago. Luiselli is identified as a Mexican-American writer, but she basically grew up all over the world.

VALERIA LUISELLI: The U.S., Costa Rica, South Korea, South Africa and India, Mexico and then Spain and France and Mexico again, and finally here in New York.

RATH: "Faces In The Crowd" reflects that internationalism. Multilingual characters chasing literary mysteries across countries. It follows a young mother on the trail of Mexican poet Gilberto Owen. This might sound like a classic literary love story, but the passion tends to get corrupted. The protagonist finds the thrill of forgery as tempting as genuine literary discovery. Luiselli says the story grew alongside a collection of essays, that the fiction let her explore ideas that were a little more impure.

LUISELLI: Essays are a bit like snow globes in the sense that they're in closed worlds where it's really just the voice of the essayist that we hear. I think that if you take a snow globe like that and throw it against the ground, so to speak, then you allow a sort of contamination. And I think that novels are more like that, and I started feeling that temptation, where I just needed other voices to come in.

RATH: That collection of essays, titled "Sidewalks," was published right alongside the novel this spring. They reflect Luiselli's fondness for blurring the lines of genre and language. She writes fluently in both Spanish and English, but makes a point of having others translate her work.

LUISELLI: You've already written a book. The best thing about writing a book is the absolute freedom you have when you're writing. And if you translate yourself, it's like you've lost that freedom because you have to somehow stick to the original. And I like to think of my books in English more as versions of the Spanish ones and the Spanish ones as versions of the English ones.

RATH: That's Valeria Luiselli. She has two new books out - the novel "Faces In The Crowd" and a collection of essays titled "Sidewalks."

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