The National Book Foundation’s 5 Under 35, 2014

Valeria Luiselli

Faces in the Crowd

Christina MacSweeney, Translator

(Coffee House Press, May 2014)

Selected by Karen Tei Yamashita, 2010 National Book Award Finalist for I Hotel

Valeria Luiselli Valeria Luiselli was born in Mexico City in 1983 and grew up in South Africa. Her novels and essays have been translated into many languages and her work has appeared in publications including the New York TimesGranta, and McSweeney’s. Some of her recent projects include a ballet libretto for the choreographer Christopher Wheeldon, performed by the New York City Ballet in Lincoln Center in 2010 and a pedestrian sound installation for the Serpentine Gallery in London. The Story of My Teeth, a novel written in installments for workers in a juice factory in Mexico, will be published by Coffee House Press in 2015. She lives in New York City.

Christina MacSweeney has an MA in Literary Translation from the University of East Anglia. Her translations of Valeria Luiselli’s Faces in the Crowd and Sidewalks have been published by Granta (2012/2013) and Coffee House Press (2014). She also contributes to wide variety of literary magazines and web sites. In 2013, her translation of a collection of essays by the Paraguayan art critic Ticio Escobar (The Invention of Distance) was published in a bilingual edition by the AICA/Fausto.

About Faces in the Crowd:

A young mother in Mexico City, captive to a past that both overwhelms and liberates her, and a house she cannot abandon nor fully occupy, writes a novel of her days as a translator living in New York. A young translator, adrift in Harlem, is desperate to translate and publish the works of Gilberto Owen, an obscure Mexican poet who lived in Harlem during the 1920s, and whose ghostly presence haunts her in the city’s subways. And Gilberto Owen, dying in Philadelphia in the 1950s, convinced he is slowly disappearing, recalls his heyday decades before, his friendships with Nella Larsen, Louis Zukofsky, and Federico Garcia Lorca, and the young woman in a red coat he saw in the windows of passing trains. As the voices of the narrators overlap and merge, they drift into one single stream, an elegiac evocation of love and loss.


Karen Tei YamashitaKaren Tei Yamashita is the author of six books, including I Hotel, finalist for the National Book Award, and most recently, Anime Wong:  Fictions of Performance, all published by Coffee House Press.  She recently received a US Artists Ford Foundation Fellowship and is Professor of Literature and Creative Writing at the University of California, Santa Cruz. 

Photo credit: Carolyn Lagattua