Chloe Aridjis

Chloe Aridjis is a London-based Mexican novelist and writer. Her 2009 novel Book of Clouds was published in eight countries, and won the French Prix du Premier Roman Etranger. Her second novel, Asunder, was first published in May 2013, to unanimous acclaim in the UK.[1] , followed by Sea Monsters in February 2019. She is the eldest daughter of Mexican poet and diplomat Homero Aridjis and American Betty F. de Aridjis, an environmental activist and translator. She is the sister of film maker Eva Aridjis, for whom she worked as a stills photographer. She has a doctorate in nineteenth-century French poetry and magic from Oxford University.[2]

Chloe Aridjis
Chloe Aridjis reading from Book of Clouds
BornNew York City
NationalityMexican and American
Alma materHarvard and Oxford
GenreLiterary fiction
Notable worksBook of Clouds, Asunder
Notable awardsPrix du Premier Roman Etranger (France), Guggenheim Fellowship (USA)
RelativesHomero Aridjis, Eva Aridjis


Born in New York City, U.S., Chloe Aridjis grew up in Mexico City and the Netherlands, where her father served as Mexico's ambassador. She studied comparative literature at Harvard and then wrote a thesis on "Night and the Poetic Self" in Baudelaire's Les Fleurs du mal at the University of Oxford, under the supervision of Malcolm Bowie before completing a doctorate on "the interface between high and popular art in nineteenth-century France with a special focus on the relationship between poetry, magic shows and literature of the fantastic".[3][4] As a teenager she had a bilingual exposure to pop in Mexico City, listening to British bands while discovering their Mexican equivalents at a gay goth club.[5] Her book of essays on Magic and Poetry in Nineteenth-century France was released in 2005.

She met great poets such as Jorge Luis Borges and Ted Hughes at international poetry festivals her parents organised in the early 1980s. This had a lasting effect on Aridjis who maintained a correspondence with several of them throughout her adolescence.[3]

Her favourite authors include Gogol, Beckett, Thomas Bernhard, Kafka, Cervantes, Poe, Horacio Quiroga, Baudelaire,[6] Nerval, Mallarmé, Rimbaud, Walter Benjamin, and Robert Walser.[3] Other favourite authors include Gaston Bachelard, Lautréamont and Rene Daumal.[7]

Her doctoral thesis was published in Spanish as Topografía de lo insólito: La magia y lo fantástico literario en la Francia del siglo XIX (Fondo de Cultura Económica, Mexico, 2005).[3] She publishes in journals and newspapers in England, Mexico, among them essays for Granta on insomnia and the psychological fallout of space travel on Soviet cosmonauts.[8] After five years in Berlin currently resides in London. She taught on the literary novels MA at City University London.[9] She has been vegetarian since 1986.[3]

Her first novel Book of Clouds was published in the US by Grove Press in winter 2009, and by Chatto and Windus in the UK in July 2009, in the Netherlands, and by Mercure de France in September 2009. It came out in Mexico, Spain, Romania and Croatia in 2011 and as a graphic novel in French in early 2012. Reviewing Book of Clouds for The Independent, Daniel Hahn described it as an "exceptional debut novel".[10] In The New York Times, Wendy Lesser described Book of Clouds as "a stunningly accurate portrait of Berlin".[11] Regina Marler in the Los Angeles Times drew attention to Aridjis's "magic and poetry", and described "an unsettling atmosphere unlike anything in recent fiction."[12] In November 2009, Book of Clouds won the Prix du Premier Roman Etranger in France.[13]

Her second novel, Asunder, was published in May 2013 by Chatto and Windus in London, and in September by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt in New York City.[5] It deals with two museum guards, one at the National Gallery in London, for whom life and art begin to overtake each other in surreal and unsettling ways.[14] It involves a trip to Paris, and carefully contained worlds torn apart.[15] The Times Literary Supplement wrote, "Chloe Aridjis is crafting a poetics of the strange ... This is deft and shimmering fiction" while The Guardian described the novel as "Strange, extravagant, darkly absorbing ... thrills with energy." [16]

Her third novel, Sea Monsters, was published in February 2019. The New Yorker referred to it as "a hypnotic narrative of disenchantment" [17] while The Atlantic called it "a strange symbolist novel that would make Mallarmé proud" [18] and wrote, "Like a magician, Aridjis is obsessed with elusiveness; like a symbolist, she far prefers imagination and metaphor to plain sight."[19]

Aridjis was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship in 2014.[20]

She was co-curator of the Leonora Carrington exhibition at Tate Liverpool that opened in March 2015 [21] and occasionally writes for frieze[22] and other art journals.

In February 2016 her translation of her father's book The Child Poet came out in English.[23]


  • Asunder. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 17 September 2013. ISBN 978-0-544-00351-4.[24]
  • Book of Clouds. Grove/Atlantic, Incorporated. 10 March 2009. ISBN 978-1-55584-919-1.
  • Book of Clouds Chatto and Windus, 2009
    • Wolken boven Berlijn LJ Veen, 2009; Atlas-Contact, 2010, ISBN 9789020410174
    • Le livre des nuages Mercure de France, 2009; Warum Editions, 2012, ISBN 9782915920666
    • El libro de las nubes, Fondo de Cultura Económica, 2011, ISBN 9786071607232
    • Buch der Wolken, Edition Nautilus, 2017, ISBN 9783960540311
  • Magic and the Literary Fantastique in Nineteenth-Century France, University of Oxford, 2002
  • Topografía de lo insólito, Fondo de Cultura Económica, México, 2005
    • Sea Monsters, Chatto & Windus, 2019


  3. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2012-02-18. Retrieved 2012-11-26.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  13. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2009-11-07. Retrieved 2009-11-30.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  20. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2014-07-14. Retrieved 2014-07-06.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  24. Alexandra Harris (31 May 2013). "Asunder by Chloe Aridjis – review". The Guardian. She dares add one more straining element because she knows that her novel – like the paintings she most admires – will be more intensely alive the more it seems to be just on the verge of falling apart.
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