Winner of the 2020 PEN/Faulkner Award
'A mesmerizing, revelatory novel, smart and funny and laced with a strangeness... For my money, Chloe Aridjis is one of the most brilliant novelists working in English today' Garth Greenwell
One autumn afternoon in Mexico City, 17-year-old Luisa does not return home from school. Instead, she boards a bus to the Pacific coast with the reckless, impulsive Tomás, a boy she barely knows. Their quest: to track down a troupe of Ukrainian dwarfs who have recently escaped a touring circus.
Together they head for Zipolite, the ‘Beach of the Dead’, a community peopled by hippies, nudists, beach combers and eccentric storytellers, and Luisa searches for someone, anyone, who will ‘promise, no matter what, to remain a mystery’. But as Luisa wanders the shoreline, she begins to discover that a quest is more easily envisioned than accomplished.
'Destined to be a classic: a richly imaginative, reflective and entracing novel' Xiaolu Guo
"The novel's brilliance lies in capturing so convincingly that state of adolescent restlessness... Aridjis’s languid prose lets these images wash over the reader, unfurling in comma-rich sentences that beautifully render a state of inertia"
"A mesmerising novel… Aridjis beautifully renders the perspective of a bored, intelligent, privileged teenage girl — a decadent, solipsistic daydream"
"Self-contained, inscrutable, and weirdly captivating, like a salvaged object that wants to return to the sea"
"Aridjis riffs like a poet, letting each image twist and grow into the next... The novel’s strength lies in its ability to turn to the next magic trick, the next detail, the next sight. Those sights are all the more impressive when conjured solely from language. By opting out of fiction’s conventional prioritization of plot or character development, Aridjis foregrounds her ability to develop images and metaphors. The result is seductive in its multiplicity. Mallarmé would be proud"