Nominated by:

New York Public Library, USA

Publisher of nominated edition:

Coffee House Press, USA

Published in the UK by Granta

The Story of My Teeth

Valeria Luiselli      

Translated from the original Spanish by Christina MacSweeney

2017 Shortlist!

Comments from the judges

Valeria Luiselli and Christina MacSweeney have created an extraordinary novel that addresses the value of art and authenticity. Narrator Gustavo “Highway” Sánchez Sánchez plays fast and loose with the truth in his job as “the best auctioneer in the world”, selling off anything and everything including his own teeth. The lots’ value, we learn, depends on the stories attached to them. Unfortunately, Gustavo’s past catches up with him and he ends up locked inside an art gallery, but he gets his own back in the end. Luiselli’s delightfully playful book was written in collaboration with Mexico City factory workers and genuinely sparkles in Christina MacSweeney’s lively translation. The translator has also appended her own chapter, taking an innovative and entertaining approach to the problem of cultural and historical references that might otherwise get lost along the way. A real adventure in writing with an affectionately drawn rogue of a hero.

About the book

Highway is a late-in-life world traveller, yarn spinner, collector, and legendary auctioneer. His most precious possessions are the teeth of the ‘notorious infamous’ like Plato, Petrarch, and Virginia Woolf. Written in collaboration with the workers at a Jumex juice factory, Teeth is an elegant, witty, exhilarating romp through the industrial suburbs of Mexico City and Luiselli’s own literary influences.

(from publisher)

About the Author

Valeria Luiselli was born Mexico City and 1983 and grew up in South Africa. A novelist (Faces in the Crowd) and essayist (Sidewalks), her work has been translated into many languages and has appeared in publications including the New York Times, the New Yorker, Granta, and McSweeney’s. In 2014, Faces in the Crowd was the recipient of the Los Angeles Times Art Seidenbaum Award for First Fiction and the National Book Foundation’s 5 Under 35 award.

Librarian’s Comments

An offbeat meditation about the value we place on things. Gustavo/Highway auctions off his teeth claiming they are from the mouths of famous philosophers and writers such a Plato and Virginia Woolf. He uses the money to by a new set of teeth professed to belong to Marilyn Monroe. The Story of My Teeth is a singular and thoroughly enjoyable read.

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