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About the book
When a meth-addicted grave robber unearths the death mask of Montezuma, the fabled Aztec ruler, he sets off a violent struggle for its possession that pulls in a richly varied cast of American expats and local Mexicans. There’s the ruthless, dying drug lord who will stop at nothing to secure the death mask for himself; a secretive expat American collector for whom masks are almost a fetish, kept locked away in a private chapel on his property; a Mexican gardener who needs cash to escape with his teenaged lover; a former Oaxacan museum director who, for a fee, provides provenances for looted artifacts; his long-suffering housekeeper, deeply religious, a lesbian in a culture of machismo who despises her patron; Salvador, the sensual and mercurial Oaxacan painter with a secret agenda of his own; and the addled, meth-addicted American grave robber himself, in over his head and running for his life.
But above all, there’s the novel’s heroine, Anna Ramsay, a 30-year-old American with a history of bad choices for whom the mask means redemption for her father, a discredited art collector, and retribution against her unfaithful fiancé, a museum curator—and perhaps also the recovery of an identity that shriveled after her mother’s traumatic early death. Written in taut, lyrical prose, Dancing with the Tiger is a riveting exploration of the masks we wear, the secrets we keep, and the revelations we owe to those we love.
About the author
A graduate of Brown University, Lili Wright spent a decade as a journalist before earning her MFA in nonfiction from Columbia University. Her nonfiction has appeared in The New York Times, Esquire, Newsweek, the Chicago Tribune, the Baltimore Sun, and the New York Post. She is the author of Learning to Float, a travel memoir about a trip from Maine to Key West, which was included on The Washington Post‘s best summer reads list. During her many trips to Mexico—including a year-long sabbatical in Oaxaca—she lived with Mexican families, studied Spanish, worked as a reporter, watched dancing tigers parade down the streets, visited ghost towns, started her own mask collection, and ran—briefly—with the bulls. She currently teaches creative writing and journalism at DePauw University in Indiana, where she lives with her husband and two children. Dancing with the Tiger took her five years and thirty drafts to complete.