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Chloe Aridjis in conversation with Lydia Millet

September 6, 2023 @ 6:00 pm

City Lights and Catapult Books present

Chloe Aridjis in conversation with Lydia Millet

celebrating the publication of

Dialogue with a Somnambulist: Stories, Essays, and a Portrait Gallery

By Chloe Aridjis

published by Catapult Books

Renowned internationally for her lyrically unsettling novels, PEN/Faulkner Award winner Chloe Aridjis now offers readers her first collection of shorter works, with an introduction by Tom McCarthy

Chloe Aridjis’s stories and essays are known to transport readers into liminal, often dreamlike, realms. In this collection of works, we meet a woman guided only by a plastic bag drifting through the streets of Berlin who discovers a nonsense-named bar that is home to papier-mâché monsters and one glass-encased somnambulist. Floating through space, cosmonauts are confronted not only with wonder and astonishment, but tedium and solitude. And in Mexico City, stray dogs animate public spaces, “infusing them with a noble life force.” In her pen portraits, Aridjis turns her eye to expats and outsiders, including artists and writers such as Leonora Carrington, Mavis Gallant, and Beatrice Hastings.

Exploring the complexity of exile and urban alienation, Dialogue with a Somnambulist showcases “the rare writer who reinvents herself in each book” (Garth Greenwell) and who is as imaginatively at home in the short form as in her longer fiction.

Chloe Aridjis is a Mexican American writer based in London. She is the author of three novels, Book of Clouds, which won the Prix du Premier Roman Etranger in France, Asunder, set in London’s National Gallery, and Sea Monsters, awarded the 2020 PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction. Chloe has written for various art journals and was guest curator of the Leonora Carrington exhibition at Tate Liverpool. She was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship in 2014 and the Eccles Centre & Hay Festival Writers Award for 2020. Chloe is a founding member of XR Writers Rebel, a group of writers who focus on addressing biodiversity loss and the climate emergency: www.writersrebel.com

Lydia Millet has written more than a dozen novels and short story collections, including Dinosaurs (2022) and A Children’s Bible, which was a finalist for the National Book Award in fiction and one of The New York Times Book Review’s Best 10 Books of 2020. She’s won fiction awards from the American Academy of Arts and Letters and PEN-Center USA and has been a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize; since 1999 she has also worked as a writer and editor at the Center for Biological Diversity.

What has been said about the work of Chloe Aridjis

Literary Hub, A Most Anticipated Book of the Year

The Millions, A Most Anticipated Book of the Year

“Mexican American writer Aridjis conjures the strange and marvelous in this dazzling collection of stories and essays . . . A surreal mood and intellectual heft sustain and unify the varied collection. Readers will eagerly turn the page to see where Aridjis takes them next.” —Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“The nonfiction pieces, including the portraits of famous and ordinary people, are treasures. Here, Aridjis’ curiosity feels vast, her intelligence finely tuned to discover hidden connections, her playful, searching style capable of enlivening anything. Heady, marvelous work about the familiar and obscure.” —Kirkus Reviews

“A book full of sublime treasures from one of our boldest writers.” —Deborah Levy, author of Real Estate

“Exquisite dreamworks that exert alternative logics and make a compelling case for the idea that we are born into fantasy and only gradually acquire a sense of a much narrower and more rational reality.” —Claire-Louise Bennett, author of Pond

“Chloe Aridjis’s stories and essays are beguiling, her language fresh, her bright mind refreshing. She joins fantasies with realities, to startle the senses, to unite what seems unlikely—a mother eating sea monkeys, a son who can’t leave his house. With elan, she investigates life’s profound and peculiar mysteries. Reading Dialogue with a Somnambulist, one page after another, entranced, I was filled with admiration and love for this daring, excellent writer.” —Lynne Tillman, author of MOTHERCARE

“Aridjis fuses the explosive restlessness of pop culture with the elegance of highbrow restraint to create new and subversive cultural forms. Hybrid currents collide and coalesce in bizarre refractions of expressionist horror film, surrealist painting, Mexican wrestling, insomnia, hypnotism, dwarfs and even some of the comic book novelties that sprang from the fetid business brain of mail order millionaire Harold Braunhut. This isn’t just literary slippage, it’s a landslide of subtle laughs and extraordinary artistic innovation.” —Stewart Home

This event made possible by the support from the City Lights Foundation. To learn more visit: https://citylights.com/foundation/


September 6, 2023
6:00 pm


City Lights Bookstore
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City Lights
261 Columbus Ave.
San Francisco, CA 94133 United States
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