A devastating and surreal novel about the defining issue of the 21st century: illegal immigration.
In the desolate wastelands between the sierra and the jungle, under an all-seeing, unforgiving sun, a single day unfolds as relentlessly as those that have gone before. People are trafficked and brutalized, illegal migrants are cheated of their money, their dreams, their very names, even as countless others scrabble to cross the border, trying to reach a land they call El Paraíso.
In this grim inferno, a fierce love has blossomed—one that was born in pain and cruelty, and one that will live or die on this day. Estela and Epitafio too were trafficked, they grew together in the brutal orphanage, fell in love, but were ripped apart. They have played an ugly role in the very system that abused them, and done the bidding of the brutal old priest for too long. They have traded in migrants, put children to work as slaves, hacked off limbs and lives without a thought, though they have never forgotten the memory of their own shackles.
Like the immigrants whose hopes they extinguish, they long to be free; free to be together and alone. Here in an unnamed land that could be a Mexico reimagined by Breughel and Dante, on the border between purgatory and inferno, where Paradise is the mouth of hell and cruelty the only currency, lives are spent, bartered and indentured for it. Must all be bankrupt among the lost?
“Among the Lost is masterly. Its rhythm and syntax form an unforgettable, multilayered requiem for our battered region.”
“The relentless pace and vivid language… brings home the physical and emotional anxiety of those who have risked everything in the faint hope of a better life across the border… Monge shows how the corruption of the soul afflicts young and old alike when the powerful prey on the vulnerable, yet he also creates nuanced villains grappling with self-doubt and fear. In a remarkable literary feat, this tale of the dire events of one day illuminates the past, the present, and the future. While many questions remain unanswered at the end, this is a comprehensive drama of the human potential for violence and dreams in a fractured land.” STARRED REVIEW
—Shoba Viswanathan, Booklist
“This is a book of unbearable beauty and affliction. It is written with the lucidity of someone who has opened his eyes and refused to shut them again. The book’s power is not only in what it says, but in the silences that it leaves the reader’s conscience to grapple with.”
“The language in Among the Lost is both striking and strikingly easy to read…He channels the full spectrum of written expression, and the result hits the trifecta: beautiful, fast-paced, and completely his own.”
—Lily Meyer, NPR
“[A] timely novel of immigration that is as beautiful as it is horrific. It is a multilayered, emotionally complex artistic triumph.” STARRED REVIEW
“Atmospheric and chilling.”
—Mark Athitakis, On the Seawall
“This is one of the darkest books I have ever read, and one of the most powerful… an emotionally-wrenching experience and also essential reading for those who want to think deeply about migration and human rights.”
—Rebecca Hussey, Bookriot
“In an odyssey of relentless human cruelty, Emiliano Monge, one of the many linguistically adroit writers currently at work in what is an exciting era for Mexican fiction, spares no one. That he can succeed in generating any sympathy for his frenetic lovers is entirely due to the ferocious eloquence of his prose, which has been magnificently well served by translator Frank Wynne’s Miltonic register. Filtered through a wry, if urgent, continuous present tense, it conveys the inhumanity of the jungle and desert landscapes…Monge’s realist, deadly topical fiction is a weighty metaphor for our world gone mad. His characters, however depraved, often reveal traces of empathy, self-doubt, even suppressed horror.”
—Eileen Battersby, The Observer
“Propulsive, lyrical, and often savage.’
—Times Literary Supplement
“From the very first pages of Among the Lost, we’re engaged, and compromised…It’s a heady reading experience…Richly poetic…Monge is one of the most talented and interesting young novelists writing from today’s Mexico.’
—Daniel Hahn, Spectator
- Premio Iberoamericano de Novela Elena Poniatowska
- ENGLISH PEN AWARD