When 30-year-old Anna Ramsey learns that a meth-addicted looter has dug up what might be the funerary mask of Montezuma, she books the next flight to Oaxaca. Determined to redeem her father, a discredited art collector, and to one-up her unfaithful fiancé, a museum curator, Anna hurls herself headlong into Mexico’s underground art world. But others are chasing the treasure as well: the shape-shifting drug lord no one can really describe; the enigmatic American expat, who keeps his art collection locked in a chapel; the former museum director who traffics stolen works, and his housekeeper—deeply religious, a gay woman in a culture of machismo, dependent on a patron she loathes; the painter Salvador on his motorcycle, complex, sensual—but with secrets of his own.
Anna soon realizes that everyone is masked—some literally, others metaphorically. Indeed, Dancing with the Tiger is a splendid reminder that throughout human history, cultures have revered masks: whether in the theater or in war, for religious purposes, or to conceal identity, masks are as universal as our desire to transform ourselves, to change. Anna stands out as a heroine for our times as, traveling alone, she finds the courage to show her true face.
Advance Reviews for Dancing with the Tiger
"A rollicking combination of art and archeology, forgeries, drug deals, and tourists, Montezuma, murder, and love. Dancing with the Tiger is smart, sexy, and extremely suspenseful. Block out some time--once you start, you won't be putting it down."--Karen Joy Fowler, author of We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves and Black Glass: Short Fictions
"A gripping and powerful story of artifact smuggling and drug dealing in Mexico, driven by Lili Wright's deep compassion for the people and place she writes about."--Jess Walter, author of Beautiful Ruins and We Live in Water and Beautiful Ruins
"An entrancing, provocative, and utterly beguiling debut. Like its heroine, Lili Wright's Dancing with the Tiger is so vibrant and alive you can practically feel the pages humming beneath your fingers. Not to be missed."--Megan Abbott, Dare Me and The Fever
"From sentence to sentence, Wright provides a literary theme park of noir thrills and cross-cultural conflict. Her talents as a storyteller are only exceeded by her skill in portraying the desperate brilliance that a centuries-old MacGuffin brings out in her characters. A Raymond Chandler engine inside a Megan Abbott chassis with detailing by Graham Greene. Wright is the early millennium novelist that we deserve...for our sins." --Dan Barden, author of The Next Right Thing
"Dancing with the Tiger is built on beautiful sentences the way a spider web is built on silk. Pleasing also is Lili Wright's wisdom regarding the human condition, present on every page. Her elegant and vital sentencesalso travel in service to what is surely one of the most intricate plots of the year; but first and foremost, the sentences: one will follow them almost anywhere."--Rick Bass, author of The Lives of Rocks and All The Land to Hold Us
"It is a sexy, headlong descent into art and addiction, as hallucinatory and revelatory as a shot of mescal. Lili Wright creates a rogue's gallery of saints and sinners obsessively pursuing Montezuma's death mask, even as death dances in their midst. Fierce and fast paced, this is an urgent novel of ideas." --Sheri Holman, author of The Dress Lodger and Witches on the Road Tonight
“Smart and vivid, Dancing with the Tiger turns all the gears — and with gusto — from sex to gun play to old lost treasures in Mexico. As the ancient stolen mask changes hands, this novel delivers.” — Ron Carlson, the author of Return to Oakpine
"This book is one of those literary novels that transcends genre--several, in fact: it contains romance, mystery, suspense, and history. Yet at heart its greatest gift is the care with which it's written. A superb success."--Antonya Nelson, author of Funny Once and In the Land of Men