At Night We Walk in Circles

Finalist, 2014 PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction
The breakout book from a prizewinning young writer: a breathtaking, suspenseful story of one man’s obsessive search to find the truth of another man’s downfall.
 
Nelson’s life is not turning out the way he hoped. His girlfriend is sleeping with another man, his brother has left their South American country, leaving Nelson to care for their widowed mother, and his acting career can’t seem to get off the ground. That is, until he lands a starring role in a touring revival of The Idiot President, a legendary play by Nelson’s hero, Henry Nunez, leader of the storied guerrilla theater troupe Diciembre. And that’s when the real trouble begins.
 
The tour takes Nelson out of the shelter of the city and across a landscape he’s never seen, which still bears the scars of the civil war. With each performance, Nelson grows closer to his fellow actors, becoming hopelessly entangled in their complicated lives, until, during one memorable performance, a long-buried betrayal surfaces to force the troupe into chaos.
 
Nelson’s fate is slowly revealed through the investigation of the narrator, a young man obsessed with Nelson’s story—and perhaps closer to it than he lets on. In sharp, vivid, and beautiful prose, Alarcón delivers a compulsively readable narrative and a provocative meditation on fate, identity, and the large consequences that can result from even our smallest choices.

Advance Praise

“Alarcón's purpose here is to disorient us, stripping away markers of place and identity, until we have to see the world on different terms.”

Los Angeles Times



“Alarcón is a young, talented writer who is on the cusp of a breakthrough, a state of mind perfectly captured by the compulsively energetic voice of At Night We Walk in Circles… [a] gripping story.”

The Daily Beast



“Nabokov says that imagination is a form of memory, and this novel is a perfect example of this claim. In writing about a place, its people and its history, Daniel Alarcón's memory catches the evanescent details of everyday life, while his imagination, never for a moment blurred, creates a powerful story with so many intricate characters. This is a novel written with extraordinary vision and wisdom.”

—Yiyun Li, author of Gold Boy, Emerald Girl and The Vagrants



“This is a devastatingly good novel and a masterful work by a gifted storyteller. Via the tangled lives of a small group of Peruvian actors, and in clear, compelling prose, Daniel Alarcón weaves a suspenseful tale about illusion and longing, love and denial — about all the kinds of human exile.”

—Jon Lee Anderson, author of Che Guevara: A Revolutionary Life and The Fall of Baghdad