Rosie Clarke at The Quarterly Conversation:
Humorous and heartbreaking, The Story of My Teeth is Luiselli’s follow-up to her award-winning debut, Faces in the Crowd. The author’s mastery of entrelacement was epitomized in that first book, which weaves together three plots into an intricate, and increasingly complex, braid of poignant narratives, where fact and fiction become indivisible (a refrain also common to this new work). Born in Mexico City in 1983, and currently based in New York City, Luiselli has lived in Costa Rica, South Africa, India, France, Spain, and South Korea. Despite such varied environments, two places in particular form a crucial part of her fiction: both Mexico and Manhattan play pivotal roles, often more like characters than settings. While Faces in the Crowd took us into the heart of Harlem, in The Story of My Teeth the nooks and crannies of the Distrito Federal are made tangible through Luiselli’s deftly descriptive prose, with the assistance of photographs documenting the real-life locations featured in the novel.
Written in instalments for the workers of the Jumex juice factory in Ecatepec, Mexico City,The Story of My Teeth recalls the heyday of serialized literature, when publishing chapters sequentially in magazines was a way of broadening readership to include those unable to afford books. In this case, each chapter was distributed among workers in the form of an egalitarian chapbook (with some so enamoured that a weekly reading group was formed, Luiselli subsequently receiving MP3 recordings of their meetings). In contrast to 19th-century serializations, modern technology allowed her to mold her written responses to include workers’ input. In this way, The Story of My Teeth is highly collaborative, and while Luiselli’s skill as storyteller is indisputable, the book’s rich sense of authenticity, locale, and character are surely in part due to numerous personal contributions, in addition to the many factual elements involved in what is otherwise an improbable tale.