"Chloe Aridjis’ Sea Monsters is easily her best novel. Strange, lyrical and filled with the dark wonder of youth, it is a sharp and mesmerizing book, with hints of Bolaño and Luiselli. A girl flees her happy Mexico City existence to the surreal beachside hangout of Zipolite, a zone replete with punks, goths and Ukrainian dwarves. A sense of danger and the waning of adolescence permeates each page. Sea Monsters is a remarkable novel that hovers in the air long after finishing." —Mark Haber, Brazos Bookstore (Houston, TX)
Seventeen-year-old Luisa's narrative voice is wildly immersive and utterly believable, and her wry, keen-eyed cadence lends Sea Monsters its singular sense of the story's place and time in 1980s Mexico
Sea Monsters is a sharp story, one with heart, with punk and surrealist undertones; a sort of Mexican Weetzie Bat meets Eve Babitz's sense of place meets Knausgaard's autobiographical realism meets Elena Ferrante's gift for characters; some of the most surreal elements of the story are drawn from real life.
The novel is inspired by a true story; Aridjis ran away from home at age sixteen, and her father came looking for her; as such, the narrator feels intimate and fully formed, and her simultaneous teenage skepticism and buoyant, hopeful adventure-seeking is natural and addictive to read.
Chloe Aridjis was born in New York and grew up in the Netherlands and Mexico City; she received her B.A. from Harvard University in Cambridge, MA
The author has been compared by critics to Haruki Murakami, Walter Benjamin, and W. G. Sebald
Bookstores and readers across the country are hungry for narratives and perspectives that counteract the wall-building and border-closing agendas of the current American political administration; the success of writers like Luiselli and Herrera point to a thriving moment for Mexican and Mexican American literature; and as the author says of her impetus to write the novel, "I wanted to write about a time in Mexico when the harrowing drug violence had yet to cast a pall over the country, and young people felt free enough to enact their daydreams."
Of particular interest for independent booksellers: In 2015, Chloe was the guest curator of the Leonora Carrington exhibition at Tate Liverpool. She is also the daughter of Homero Aridjis (and the translator of his 2016 The Child Poet, from Archipelago)
Advance Bookseller Praise for Sea Monsters
"The real treat of Sea Monsters is Chloe Aridjis's writing: searing and smart, fast-paced and relentless, there's not a wasted word in this book." —Emma Ramadan, Riffraff Bookstore and Bar (Providence, RI)
"This is a strange little book about voyages and reality not quite rising up to expectations. One day after school, seventeen-year-old Luisa boards a bus to a small town on the coast, following a boy she barely knows, in search of escaped circus performers from Ukraine. Aridjis captures perfectly the meandering feeling that permeates one's teenagehood, things done simply because one could do them, crashes pursued and then abandoned just as quickly. The perfect book for anyone who knows what it feels like to be a little bit odd and lost." —Anton Bogomazov, Politics and Prose (Washington, D.C.)
"Sea Monsters starts with its narrator remembering 'roam[ing] the shore, aimlessly, purposefully, and in search of digressions.' In her novel, Chloe Aridjis pays special attention to how someone can live both aimlessly and with purpose. Digressions aren't always worth pursuing, but the narrator of Sea Monsters seems gifted at knowing which ones lead a roundabout route to a kind of truth. A brief but powerfully atmospheric coming-of-age novel about the risks and rewards of leaving a life behind, Sea Monsters is worth reading for the eyes and voice of its singular runaway heroine." —John Francisconi, Bank Square Books (Mystic, CT)
"Sea Monsters focuses on a teenage girl named Luisa as she becomes obsessed with a mysterious boy named Tomas and eventually runs away with him to the seaside town of Zipolite in Oaxaca. There, the two drift apart, and Luisa becomes enraptured by the strangers who dot the Beach of the Dead. But the main craft of the novel is in all the odd and mesmeric transgressions of Luisa and the ways in which strangers shape our lives. Aridjis's writing is poetic and eccentric but moves well. She has a talent for understanding how the minute things in a person's life affect who they are." —Lauren Nopenz Fairley, Curious Iguana (Frederick, MD)
"Sea Monsters is a lovely, poetic, and atmospheric novel. The writing is precise and sharp, and the pacing is hypnotic as Aridjis explores youth and the desperation of feeling out of place. It's a wonderfully strange novel, and I absolutely loved it." —Sarah Cassavant, Subtext Books (St. Paul, MN)
"What a strange, wonderful book! Can't wait to handsell the heck out of this one." —Kelsey Ford, Skylight Books (Los Angeles, CA)
"Zipolite: 'The Beach of the Dead,' 'Place of Seashells,' 'The Place of the Buzzard,' and seventeen-year-old Luisa's ultimate landing spot when she follows an alluring, interesting boy and the whisper of a traveling troop of Ukranian dwarves. What a wild ride through nudist colonies, dark alleys, drool-worthy beachside meals, and alluring, interesting relationships all against the backdrop of the tech-free freedom of the 1980s. Perfect for fans of Night Circus or Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore, Sea Monsters is going to be such fun to handsell." —Angie Tally, The Country Bookshop (Southern Pines, NC)