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One Life


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About the Author

David Lida is the author of four books, including the very well received travel narrative First Stop in the New World (Riverhead, 2009). One Life is his first novel and will be published in Mexico in Spanish in 2016. He has been a journalist for more than twenty years, principally in the U.S. and Mexico, but also for magazines in England, Canada and Peru. He is based in Mexico City. When he is not writing, he works as an investigator for lawyers in the U.S. who defend Latin Americans that are facing the death penalty.


The story succeeds as a dramatic tale of sex, drugs, alcohol, and violence, a thorough indictment of the U.S. and Mexican criminal justice systems, and a moody rumination on why we care about the lives of others. --Publishers Weekly

Lida, himself a mitigation specialist and writer with deep ties to Mexico (where he lives), pours personal emotion into his story. In the process, he brings an elusive sense of dignity to a world where it is seemingly lost. --Kirkus Reviews "One Life will be deservedly praised for the light it trains on a previously unexposed dark corner of the primitively cruel and racist U.S. justice system. But David Lida also writes, in his remarkable novel, about a Mexico that even very few Mexican writers have any first-hand knowledge of, and does it in a way that readers on both sides of the border have rarely encountered." --Francisco Goldman, author of Say Her Name and The Interior Circuit: A Mexico City Chronicle As I followed Richard, the unraveling narrator of David Lida's One Life, I kept seeing, peeking around the corner, the whiskey priest from Graham Greene's The Power and the Glory. They both minister to a population so forsaken it has lost faith in mercy. For the Mexicans of Lida's novel, there are only labor and fate, the former measured by dollars, the latter doled out by the country that issues them. Which only makes Lida's achievement more remarkable: To follow Richard is to relinquish Anglo time, Anglo logic, Anglo law -- to say nothing about the assumptions that obtain about here and 'down there.' This is a bracing, harrowing, and, finally, poignant, novel, in which Lida succeeds in the writer's noblest task: To render foreign lives so true that it becomes impossible to look away. Buy a copy for Donald Trump. --Boris Fishman, author of A Replacement Life David Lida's One Life is simply revelatory. It's Juan Rulfo meets Raymond Chandler, Roberto Bolano meets Chester Himes. It's the American justice system, exposed, and the inside story of the frenetic, cruel push and pull that lures Mexican migrants from of their homes to the US. I've never read a book quite like this, and neither have you. --Daniel Alarcon, author of At Night We Walk in Circles David Lida's newest novel, One Life, is exactly the dark-humored piece of literature everyone should be indulging in right now... One Life explores a hard truth: this country wasn't built for people of color, but we've survived and thrived in spite of it. --Daniel Pena, Ploughshares David Lida's One Life is full of suspense and beautifully described moments that often conjure Juan Rulfo's Pedro Paramo. Like his courageous protagonist Richard, who often journeys to the most dismal and violent places in rural Mexico in search of an elusive history, Lida fearlessly explores the stark places that often shape the human spirit.
--Maria Venegas, author of Bulletproof Vest I haven't read a book this harrowing since Atticus Lish's Preparations for the Next Life. David Lida has written an extraordinary account of the cruelty, squalor, and occasional enchantment of life on both sides of the U.S.-Mexican border. It is an indictment of a justice system mired in cynicism and bad faith, and an economic system that hits the poorest hardest, and repays ambition with betrayal; but at the same time, One Life is an incredible love story, not just in the romantic sense, but in the sense that it's about coming to love life itself, despite everything.--Paul LaFarge, author of Another Life David Lida's daring novel One Life will take you on a journey to darkest Mexico, where daily life is rich with irony and pathos, violence and humor, destitution and the homeliest of comforts. Richard, your travel guide, is on a mythic quest; he must descend to the underworld and come out with a story that will move the stone hearts of a Louisiana jury to mercy. His goal is to save the life of a condemned woman whose name, Esperanza, means hope. One life, his for hers. Gripping, suspenseful, worldly, and wise, this thought-provoking novel never lets up and the serious moral questions it raises resound long after the final page is turned. --Valerie Martin, author of The Ghost of the Mary Celeste The drama of dehumanization in both countries is exposed... a durable novel that documents and crystallizes an entire era: that of the underlying myth of two indivisible and friendly nations... what remains is gratitude before a great novel. --Sergio Gonzalez Rodriguez, Reforma

One Life is not a depressing novel but a strangely uplifting one ... David Lida sews his transnational narrative together with authority and profound empathy ... as a social realist, he reveals a world of disadvantage with bracing authenticity and immediacy. He makes you care. --Andrew Paxman, Arena Public

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