"… the book is meant to be read as a ‘love letter’ to the many resigned, resilient, forgotten, and ingenious people of Mexico City [Lida] has come to know. That is exactly what it is." — Chicago Tribune

First Stop In The New World

First Stop in the New World is the only street-level panorama of contemporary Mexico City available in the English language. It includes chapters about food, sex, crime, religion, politics and a host of other subjects – but all told through the stories of Mexico City residents, who have an ingenious knack for survival despite sometimes brutally difficult obstacles.

It received incredible reviews. Reed Johnson of the Los Angeles Times called it “streetwise and up-to-date … a charmingly idiosyncratic, yet remarkably comprehensive portrait of one of the planet’s most misinterpreted urban spaces.” Mary D’Ambrosio of the San Francisco Chronicle said, “As Joseph Mitchell captured life on the margins of midcentury New York, Orhan Pamuk the melancholia of 20th century Istanbul, and Martha Gellhorn civilian suffering in Civil War Spain, Lida masterfully details the plight of a struggling and repressed city.” And Richard B. Woodward of The New York Times opined, “To test the quality of a travel book, it helps to ask: Would you like to share a meal or a drink with the writer? On the evidence of his book, which reveals him to be an expansive soul with big eyes and an even bigger heart, Mr. Lida should expect calls from a lot of newly arrived strangers, including me.”

"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 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." — Newsweek

One Life 

Richard helps save the lives of the guilty.

With his parents dead and a failed marriage behind him, he now lives in Mexico City. His work as a mitigation expert is a tidy fit for an ex-novelist and a guy not too keen on attachments. Hired by defense teams on capital cases, he investigates the often traumatic personal histories of clients potentially facing the death penalty. His speciality: undocumented Mexican defendants standing trial in the United States. In Richard’s business, success isn’t exoneration or proof of innocence, but life in prison.

Esperanza Morales is a young woman from the destitute Mexican village of Puroaire. Leaving a life of poverty and abuse, she finds work (and a room) as a maid in the home of an upper crust Mexican family. She works hard and builds a small life for herself, with a little savings and a boyfriend to amuse her on Saturday nights. But the stability cannot last, and after she loses her job she is convinced by her boyfriend to go north. Her harrowing adventure crossing the border and life as an undocumented worker in the U.S. could be the story of millions of American migrants. What makes Esperanza exceptional is her ultimate fate: a prison cell in Louisiana, facing trial for the alleged murder of her baby.

When Richard visits Esperanza in prison, the boundaries of his closely circumscribed life explode. The young woman’s story resurrects his novelistic instincts, and undermines his stoic approach to his job as he pursues clear answers in a case that offers anything but. Suddenly, Richard is aspiring for more, far more, than he ever believed he would. Set in the American south and in rural Mexico, One Life is an unflinching, page-turning novel that examines the difference between pragmatism and cynicism, the indelible links between sex, death and love, and the meaning of justice.

"Circunstancias atenuantes no es una novela deprimente sino una, de forma rara, inspiradora … David Lida cose su narrativa transnacional con autoridad y empatía profunda … como realista social, revela un mundo de desventajas con una autenticidad vigorizante, y con urgencia. Te va a importar." — Newsweek

Circunstancias atenuantes 

La traducción al español de la novela One LifeCircunstancias atenuantes se trata de Richard, un gringo que investiga las vidas traumáticas de los mexicanos indocumentados que están cargados con homicidio y enfrentando la posibilidad de la pena de muerte en Estados Unidos. Cuando le toca el caso de Esperanza Morales — una mujer que ha sufrido una vida desgarradora de pobreza y abuso, mirando un juicio para matar a su bebé — los límites de su vida explotan. Ubicado en el sur de Estados Unidos y el México profundo, Circunstancias atenuantes es una historia inquebrantable que examina los enlaces entre el pragmatismo y el cinismo; sexo, la muerte y el amor; y el significado de la justicia.


“Gets under your skin." — Time Out New York

Travel Advisory

A collection of ten short stories, set in Mexico, Travel Advisory dramatically illustrates what happens when Mexicans’ and Americans’ expectations of one another are fulfilled – or turned inside out. “Bewitched” portrays Rhoda Coldwell, a skeptical reporter from Philadelphia, who is rubbed with fluids and oil by a witch in southern Mexico.

In “Taxi,” the man behind the wheel of a cab recounts his frustrations and hard luck as he tortures a middle-aged couple for their ATM cards.

“Free Trade,” the hapless Maria Concepción, a maid from a small Oaxacan town, will find herself more used than employed as she succumbs to the urges and necessities of the well-to-do family that hired her. 

The San Francisco Chronicle states, “This is the kind of writing, dark and daring and fully felt, that makes one look forward to what Lida writes next.” WNYC Public Radio in New York said, “This is a wonderful, painful revelation of a book.” 

Las llaves de la ciudad

Las llaves de la ciudad es una compilación de notas escritas por Lida en español, para revistas y periódicos en la Ciudad de México. Cada artículo se trata de una persona distinta en la ciudad — un hombre que dice es el primer detective privado en México, y otro que vende parafernalia nazi en La Lagunilla (el mercado de pulgas más importante de la ciudad). Hay una niña de la calle que olfatea pegamento, el propietario del primer boutique del mundo que vende moda antibalas, y la estilista que peinó y maquilló Paris Hilton cuando llegó a México para promover su perfume. Cada persona está perfilado como si fuera una piedra en un mosaico y, en conjunto, forman una visión de la ciudad más grande del hemisferio occidental.

While also about Mexico City, Las llaves de la ciudad, written in Spanish, is completely different from First Stop in the New World. This is a collection of previously published magazine articles, each one about a different person in Mexico City. You’ll meet a man who claims to be the city’s first private detective, and another who sells Nazi paraphernalia at La Lagunilla (the city’s most important flea market). There’s a glue-sniffing street urchin, the proprietor of the first boutique in the world that sells only bulletproof clothing, and the stylist who did Paris Hilton’s head while she visited to promote her perfume. Each person profiled is like a stone in a mosaic, and collectively they form a vision of the largest city in the Western hemisphere.