Finalist for the PEN/Faulkner Award 2019'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 GreenwellOne autumn afternoon in Mexico City, 17-year-old Luisa does not return home from school.
Instead, she boards a bus to the Pacific coast with Tomas, a boy she barely knows.
He seems to represent everything her life is lacking - recklessness, impulse, independence - and may also help her fulfil an unusual obsession: to track down a troupe of Ukrainian dwarfs who have recently escaped a Soviet circus touring Mexico.
They head for Zipolite, the 'Beach of the Dead', a community peopled by hippies, nudists, beach combers and eccentric storytellers, and Luisa searches for someone, anyone, who will 'promise, no matter what, to remain a mystery'.
But as she wanders the shoreline, she begins to discover that a quest is more easily envisioned than accomplished. And so unfolds a phantasmagorical tale of adolescence, transgression and disenchantment in late 1980s Mexico, a place of long nights, insistent sun and relentless rain.
Sea Monsters is an intoxicating evocation of past selves and buried histories, the pull of fantasy colliding with the stark light of reality - a dreamlike yet vivid novel about the moments and mysteries that shape us. 'A mesmerizing novel . . . Aridjis beautifully renders the perspective of a bored, intelligent teenage girl - a decadent, solipsistic daydream' Emily Rhodes, Financial Times'A surreal, captivating tale about the power of a youthful imagination, the lure of teenage transgression, and its inevitable disappointments . . . Aridjis excels at writing a life lived in the borderlands between reality and fantasy . . . replete with sentences of rare beauty and power' Ellen Jones, Los Angeles Review of Books