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David Lida on Another México

By Patricia Browne Hirschl

“It never entered my mind that at forty-two I would die suddenly and unexpectedly while passing through a dicey no man’s land between where I’d been born and the home I’d made. It’s true that dying that way was congruent to the life I had been leading.”

2017 PEN Winter Lecture Series
“One Life, a Novel”
By David Lida
Tue, Jan 31, 6pm
Bellas Artes Auditorium
Hernández Macías 75
150 pesos

Richard in One Life: A Novel, David Lida

Richard, the novel’s protagonist, dies in this opening scene from David Lida’s newly published novel. Fortunately, unlike Richard, Lida is so alive he appears twice in San Miguel in one week. If you heard Lida at the special Literary Sala last Thursday, you will rush to buy tickets to his appearance next Tuesday at Bellas Artes, where he expands on his intimate knowledge of Mexico and his adopted hometown, Mexico City.

Lida writes with a purpose:

“The point of departure for “One Life” is my real-life experience as a mitigation specialist, working for lawyers in the U.S. who defend undocumented Mexicans who face the death penalty. Like Richard, I comb the back roads of Mexico and the outskirts of towns in the U.S. where the undocumented live, putting together the stories of the lives of the accused, in the hope of convincing prosecutors to take the death penalty off the table. Or to convince a jury that a client’s life is worth sparing. I’ve been on teams that have saved more than 20 lives. I believe that Mexicans without papers—even the ones facing criminal charges—are human beings whose stories are worth telling, and who are deserving of our consideration, our respect and our mercy.”

One Life is as timely as the hourly weather forecast, told with the skill that won prizes for Lida’s previous four books. His 20 years as a resident gringo mining Mexico City both for its golden glow and tawdry tinsel give immediacy that engages the reader from the first page. Both One Life and Circunstancias Atenuantes, the Spanish edition, will be on sale for signing by the author at the San Miguel PEN event.

San Miguel PEN is a chapter of PEN International, the organization of writers that fights for freedom of expression around the world. The 150-pesos admission price funds PEN’s work and includes a glass of wine with dinner after the event at Vivali on Hernandez Macias 66. Tickets are available at the Biblioteca’s Ticket Central or at the door. Learn more at or


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