Daniel Alarcón spent a lot of time in Peru's most notorious prison, gathering the history of the place as well as of the residents, during the writing of his second novel, At Night We Walk in Circles. The book begins when Nelson, a fledgling actor, wins the right to play one of three roles in a revival of his hero's famous play — alongside this hero, who was jailed under charges of terrorism when the play debuted 15 years before. The tour takes them through rural Andean towns, and Nelson, who's never left his city, makes a terrific sacrifice for the opportunity to devote himself to the world of the play. What follows is a compulsively readable but profound and unforgettable tale, told — even reported — by a mysterious narrator whose own story becomes increasingly central to the novel. Lost City Radio, Alarcón's first novel, won the 2009 International Literature Award, and the author was named one of The New Yorker's 20 Under 40.