How does a place shape our identity? Find out in a stimulating discussion between Mexican author Valeria Luiselli, whose books walk a tightrope between essay and fiction, and Lucy Hughes-Hallett, the author of remarkable biographies whose debut novel examines how those who build walls to keep others out risk finding themselves walled in.
Lucy Hughes-Hallett's first novel, Peculiar Ground, set in 17th century Oxfordshire and in 20th century Berlin, is a richly human story of love and aging, and a parable about migration and about how those who wall others out risk finding themselves walled in. It has been acclaimed as ‘that rare thing, a fresh classic’. She has long been respected as a biographer and historian. Her last book, The Pike: Gabriele d'Annunzio won the Samuel Johnson Prize, the Duff Cooper Prize and the Costa Biography Award.
Valeria Luiselli was born in Mexico City in 1983. She published a book of personal essays entitled Papeles Falsos (Sidewalks) in 2010. Her first novel, Los Ingravidos (Faces in the Crowd) was originally published by Sexto Piso in 2011. Both titles have been published by Coffee House Press in the US and Granta in the UK. In 2014 she was named one of the 5 under 35 by the National Book Foundation in the US and her most recent novel, La Historia de mis dientes (The Story of My Teeth) was one of the New York Times 100 Notable Books of 2015, won the LA Times Book Prize for Fiction in 2016 and is shortlisted for the Impac Prize 2017. Her essay Tell Me How It Ends was published in 2017. She completed a PhD in Comparative Literature at Columbia University and is currently professor of Romance Language and Literature at Hofstra University. Her work has been published in magazines and newspapers such as Letras Libres, the New York Times, the New Yorker, Freeman’s, El Pais and Harper’s and she is published in fifteen languages. She will be a judge of the National Book Awards 2017 and her new novel, Lost Children Archives, which she has written in English, will be published by Knopf in the US.