[Vwoolf] Woolf in Lost Children Archive

Michael MISC6876 misc6876 at colorado.edu
Tue Feb 11 22:55:02 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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