[Vwoolf] Woolf in Lost Children Archive

Michael Schrimper Michael.Schrimper at colorado.edu
Wed Feb 12 16:19:23 EST 2020

Hi everyone,

There is a reference to VW in the 2019 novel *Lost Children Archive*, which
was longlisted for the Booker Prize and is a *New York Times Book Review* top
pick for 2019. I’m currently reading the book for my LatinX Literature
class, in which I’m a student, and I noted that, near the back of the
volume, the author has included a section entitled “Works Cited (Notes on
Sources)”. There follows a list about the author’s “dialogue with many
different texts,” and number four of this list states:

Some references to other literary works are spread nearly invisibly across
both narrative voices as well as the *Elegies for Lost Children* and are
meant to appear as thin “threads” of literary allusion.

         One such thread alludes to Virginia Woolf’s *Mrs. Dalloway*,
wherein the technique of shifting narrative viewpoints via an object moving
in the sky was, I believe, first invented. I repurpose the technique in
point-of-view shifts that occur when the eyes of two characters “meet” in a
single point in the sky, by looking at the same object: airplane, eagles,
thunderclouds, or lightning. (358)

Beyond this Woolf reference, the author (Valeria Luiselli) enumerates the
“allusions” she sprinkles throughout her novel. I admit that when I first
saw this list I thought: O ye of little faith in critics who notice
unprompted! But perhaps the Works Cited builds upon a theme of “documents”
and “documentality”?

Whatever the case, noteworthy, I think, to see Woolf’s presence in a
contemporary Mexican-American immigration and border narrative. The novel
is about two children, on a road trip with their parents from New York to
Arizona, who are trying to make sense of their parents’ deteriorating
relationship, as well as the accounts they hear on the news of children
being detained at the border or getting lost in the desert while attempting
to cross it.


Michael R. Schrimper
Ph.D. Student, Department of English
University of Colorado Boulder
Traditional Territories of the Arapaho, Cheyenne, and Ute Nations
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