Sea Monsters

Chloe Aridjis (Author)
Available

Description

Winner of the 2020 PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction, this intoxicating story of a teenage girl who trades her a middle-class upbringing for a quest for meaning in 1980s Mexico is "a surreal, captivating tale about the power of a youthful imagination, the lure of teenage transgression, and its inevitable disappointments" (Los Angeles Review of Books)

One autumn afternoon in Mexico City, seventeen-year-old Luisa does not return home from school. Instead, she boards a bus to the Pacific coast with Tom s, a boy she barely knows. He seems to represent everything her life is lacking―recklessness, impulse, independence.

Tom s may also help Luisa fulfill an unusual obsession: she wants to track down a traveling troupe of Ukrainian dwarfs. According to newspaper reports, the dwarfs recently escaped a Soviet circus touring Mexico. The imagined fates of these performers fill Luisa's surreal dreams as she settles in a beach community in Oaxaca. Surrounded by hippies, nudists, beachcombers, and eccentric storytellers, Luisa searches for someone, anyone, who will "promise, no matter what, to remain a mystery." It is a quest more easily envisioned than accomplished. As she wanders the shoreline and visits the local bar, Luisa begins to disappear dangerously into the lives of strangers on Zipolite, the "Beach of the Dead."

Meanwhile, her father has set out to find his missing daughter. A mesmeric portrait of transgression and disenchantment unfolds. Set to a pulsing soundtrack of Joy Division, Nick Cave, and Siouxsie and the Banshees, Sea Monsters is a brilliantly playful and supple novel about the moments and mysteries that shape us.

"Aridjis is deft at conjuring the teenage swooniness that apprehends meaning below every surface. Like Sebald's or Cusk's, her haunted writing patrols its own omissions . . . The figure of the shipwreck looms large for Aridjis. It becomes a useful lens through which to see this book, which is self-contained, inscrutable, and weirdly captivating, like a salvaged object that wants to return to the sea." ―Katy Waldman, The New Yorker

Product Details

Price
$16.95  $15.59
Publisher
Catapult
Publish Date
February 18, 2020
Pages
224
Dimensions
5.1 X 0.6 X 7.9 inches | 0.55 pounds
Language
English
Type
Paperback
EAN/UPC
9781948226776
BISAC Categories:

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About the Author

Chloe Aridjis is a Mexican American writer who was born in New York and grew up in the Netherlands and Mexico. After completing her Ph.D. at the University of Oxford in nineteenth-century French poetry and magic shows, she lived for nearly six years in Berlin. Her debut novel, Book of Clouds, has been published in eight languages and won the Prix du Premier Roman Etranger in France. Aridjis sometimes writes about art and insomnia and was a guest curator at Tate Liverpool. In 2014, she was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship. She lives in London.

Reviews

Praise for Sea Monsters

Winner of the 2020 PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction
The Atlantic, Not Your Average Beach Read
Fast Company, 1 of 77 New Movies, TV Shows, Albums, and Books You Must Check Out This Month
Apartment Therapy, 1 of 5 Books to Read This Month
Named 1 of 48 Books by Women and Nonbinary Authors of Color to Read in 2019 by Electric Literature
Bustle, 1 of 24 Fiction Books Coming Out This Month that You Definitely Need to Read
A The Millions Most Anticipated Book of the Year
A Big Other Most Anticipated Small Press Book of the Year
Electric Literature, 1 of 7 Books Set in Mexico City to Read After You've Watched Roma
Southwest Review, 1 of 10 Must-Read Books of the Year

"Following a grand narrative tradition of privileged yet jaded youth, this novel's teen-age protagonist, Luisa, flees her middle-class life in Mexico City in search of adventure . . . Aridjis, like Luisa, has a knack for clever observations, and her supple writing ultimately keeps the story going." --The New Yorker

"Aridjis is deft at conjuring the teenage swooniness that apprehends meaning below every surface. Like Sebald's or Cusk's, her haunted writing patrols its own omissions . . . The figure of the shipwreck looms large for Aridjis. It becomes a useful lens through which to see this book, which is self-contained, inscrutable, and weirdly captivating, like a salvaged object that wants to return to the sea." --Katy Waldman, The New Yorker

"A surreal, captivating tale about the power of a youthful imagination, the lure of teenage transgression, and its inevitable disappointments . . . Aridjis allows her narrative to swell and recede like the sea, along with Luisa's capacious imagination . . . Aridjis excels at writing a life lived in the borderlands between reality and fantasy, conveying the imagination of a 17-year-old with whims and fancies that are intriguing rather than exasperating or laughable. Luisa's goals remain elusive, and her gradual disenchantment is entirely relatable. Moreover, the novel's precocious teenage narrative voice is replete with sentences of rare beauty and power. I may start reading it again at once." --Ellen Jones, Los Angeles Review of Books

"A mesmerizing novel . . . Aridjis beautifully renders the perspective of a bored, intelligent, privileged teenage girl--a decadent, solipsistic daydream." --Emily Rhodes, Financial Times

"A coming-of-age story set . . . in the Mexico in which Aridjis grew up, in which the language is precise, strange, evocative and wise. It's language as it really ought to be . . . The novel poses far more questions than it answers, and it does so accurately and beautifully." --R. O. Kwon, The Guardian

"[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." --Lily Meyer, The Atlantic

"Based on an episode from Aridjis's teenage years in Mexico, the novel's brilliance lies in capturing so convincingly that state of adolescent restlessness . . . With its watery setting, its perhapses and probablys, the novel carries a suggestion that things aren't quite as they seem . . . Aridjis leaves us with the sense that Luisa's disillusionment, like everything else, is in flux." --Francesca Carington, The Daily Telegraph

"Chloe Aridjis crafts an undulating story not of innocence lost but innocence exchanged." --Marilyse V. Figueroa, World Literature Today

"Aridjis trusts us as readers to follow along, filling in the gaps and accepting the obscure references to everything from Baudelaire to punk music . . . We are breathlessly close to Luisa herself but distant from so many parts of her. But, at the novel's end, looking back on the expedition with Luisa, we realize a journey can be transformative even when it ends in the same place it began." --Liam Nieman, The Daily Mississippian

"Sea Monsters revels in a mode of perception that's just a little bit off from true . . . Luisa delights in the improbable but actual . . . Sea Monsters is a treasure chest of Luisa's deftly curated visions." --Angela Woodward, BOMB Magazine

"[A] dreamy, fantastical novel packed with lush description as Luisa recounts her first encounters with the darkly enrapturing Tomás, interchanged with scenes of her new life on the beach, where she becomes increasingly intertwined with others' lives." --Jill Capeway, HuffPost

"Aridjis draws the reader in with gorgeous and poignant descriptions of setting, essayistic digressions on history and art, and moody suggestions of violence. She's like a dreamier W. G. Sebald, or Baudelaire set to a soundtrack of Joy Division and the Cure. Further, there's a sense of playfulness in Aridjis that a lot of people trying to write this kind of fiction never achieve. With palpable characters and brisk pacing, her books are never a chore, even if you never really know where the story is going." --Wilson McBee, Southwest Review

"Sea Monsters is a smart and playful novel about Luisa, a 17-year-old in Mexico in the late '80s. Follow along as she searches for a traveling group of Ukrainian dwarfs who escaped a touring Soviet circus and the people she meets along the way." ―Elizabeth Entenman, HelloGiggles

"Sea Monsters is the most unique book you might read all year thanks to author Chloe Aridjis and her vivid imagination." --Sophie Matthews, Women.com

"[Sea Monsters] blazes forth in a fleeting flash of brilliance . . . [Aridjis] creates images of surpassing beauty and even whole paragraphs that more closely resemble prose poems." --Cory Oldweiler, amNewYork

"Sea Monsters is a fascinatingly consistent and exquisitely shaped novel by Chloe Aridjis . . . The narrative surface searches the depths of being human." --Michael Silverblatt, KCRW's Bookworm

"What makes Aridjis's [Sea Monsters] so fantastic is the combination of mythical and historical traits that entwine throughout the book. I was transported to a beach I have never seen, while at the same time back to my youth, when time seemed infinite and my desire to be an adult was omnipresent." --Haley Sherif, The Rumpus

"Unexpected trips, Quixotic quests, haunted searches, and mysterious communities: there's a whole lot going on in Chloe Aridjis's new novel. It begins with a young woman venturing westward, which sets into motion a series of surreal events proceeding along an unpredictable path." --Vol. 1 Brooklyn

"Aridjis is an accomplished wordsmith, and readers will find themselves rereading many passages in this wise, marvelous novel." --Library Journal (starred review)

"A dreamy, wandering tale of teenage ennui and searching, and the pull of the sea . . . Aridjis's sentences are luminescent and imagistic . . . [A] lovely, surreal novel." --Julia Kastner, Shelf Awareness

"Aridjis's writing meanders between the beautifully poetic and achingly impatient, her characters existing in the margins of fantasy, perpetually covered in sand. It is as though they are neither flora nor fauna, neither land nor sea." --Harry Gallon, Minor Literature[s]

"One could only wish to have been as precocious at 17 years old as Luisa, the inquisitive voice of Aridjis' spellbinding novel, Sea Monsters. What's more to admire than the zeal with which Luisa draws musings from the sea is her bottomless obsession for an enigma of a boy named Tomas, who makes a runaway out of her in search of something mythological. Aridjis knows, as all hopeless romantics do, that only the burn of love could spark such an irresistible getaway. As Luisa and Tomas' whirlwind adventure reaches its crest, what unleashes is a tide of vulnerable sensations that do nothing if not resonate with the teenage heart within us all." --Paris Close, Paperback Paris, One of the Best Books of the Year

"Ethereal and ruminative . . . Brilliant in her ability to get inside the head of her young narrator, Aridjis skillfully renders a slightly zonked-out atmosphere of mystery and the mind of a young romantic, resulting in a strange and hypnotic novel." --Publishers Weekly

"Sea Monsters is a mesmerizing, revelatory novel, smart and funny and laced with a strangeness that is never facile but serves as a profound and poetic tool for navigating our shared world. Chloe Aridjis is the rare writer who reinvents herself in each book; she is, for my money, one of the most brilliant novelists working in English today." --Garth Greenwell, author of What Belongs to You

"Sea Monsters by Chloe Aridjis is destined to be a classic: a richly imaginative, reflective, and mesmerizing novel set in Mexico."--Xiaolu Guo, NBCC Award winning author of Nine Continents

"Sea Monsters is a searingly hypnotic work, a dazzling tale of enchantment and disenchantment that unfolds in Mexico City and Oaxaca in the late 1980s." --Laura Esquivel, bestselling author of Like Water for Chocolate

"I love the way Chloe Aridjis creates her own worlds in prose, and I especially love how Sea Monsters has invented the world of adolescence and its reveries: violent and tender, logical and dreamlike--a twenty-first-century essay disguised as a nineteenth-century fable." --Adam Thirlwell, author of Lurid & Cute

"Sea Monsters not only raises the notion of finding love in the kindness and compassion of strangers but that love can also be a tide--one we must trust to show us the way." --Paris Close, Paperback Paris, 1 of the 60 Best Books of the Year

Praise for Chloe Aridjis

2014 Guggenheim Fellow
Prix du Premier Roman Etranger Winner

"Chloe Aridjis is crafting a poetics of the strange... this is deft and shimmering fiction." --The Times Literary Supplement

"A young writer of immense talent." --Paul Auster

"Hypnotic. . . . Aridjis' novel has the power of dreams and still hasn't left me." --Junot Díaz on Book of Clouds for Salon

"A post-Sebaldian, post-Benjamin peripatetic meditation. . . . One of my favorites this year." --Ali Smith on Book of Clouds for The Times Literary Supplement

"Exquisitely written. . . . A perfect story for our unsettled times." --Francisco Goldman on Book of Clouds

"Chloe Aridjis writes with a fine-tuned sensitivity and a captivating charm. Her universe is offbeat, rich, and disturbing in equal measure--but always utterly compelling." --Tom McCarthy

"Chloe Aridjis's gifts for narrative, description, and detail signal the arrival of a promising new writer." --Francine Prose

"I am very excited by Chloe Aridjis." --Jeanette Winterson

"Chloe Aridjis writes about sensations at the edges of perception, capturing experiences rarely included in fiction. A surprising sensibility and an effortlessly original voice." --Eva Hoffman

"Brilliantly exact and disconcerting. . . . Reading [Aridjis] is absorbing and enlarging to the imagination." --Diana Athill

"[A] young writer who see[s] the world with a fresh, original vision." --Wendy Lesser, The New York Times Book Review