Subway Space and Transit Aesthetics in Valeria Luiselli’s Faces in the Crowd


  • Emma Eldelin Linköping University


Valeria Luiselli, subway, metaliterary space, Henri Lefebvre, critical literary geography, aesthetics


By examining the subway as a spatial structure informing the narrative and aesthetics of Faces in the Crowd (Los ingrávidos)—the debut novel of Valeria Luiselli—this article argues that transitional spaces such as the subway, designed primarily for movement and exchange, function in contemporary literature as reflective loci for aesthetic questions, and that they mediate an evolving debate on the changing conditions of artistic practice in a globalized world. In the novel, the subway, and the New York City subway in particular, is highlighted as a space for literary encounters and exchanges between Latin American and Northern American literary tradition. Furthermore, the material space of the subway and the practices of subway riding infuse the form and structure of the novel. With perspectives from Henri Lefebvre and critical literary geography as envisioned by literary critic Andrew Thacker, as well as from current discussion on aesthetic responses to globalization, it shows how the subway, with its double potential to function as an abstract, rational space of flows as well as a meaningful and situated location, mediates an aesthetic of movement and transit in Luiselli’s novel, interrogating some of the challenges facing literature in an increasingly global world.

Author Biography

Emma Eldelin, Linköping University

Associate professor in Comparative LiteratureDepartment for Cuture and SocietyLinköping University 


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