Shortlisted for the Guardian First Book Award 2011 and the Oxford-Weidenfeld Translation Prize 2012
Tochtli lives in a palace. He loves hats, samurai, guillotines and dictionaries, and what he wants more than anything right now is a new pet for his private zoo: a pygmy hippopotamus from Liberia. But Tochtli is a child whose father is a drug baron on the verge of taking over a powerful cartel, and Tochtli is growing up in a luxury hideout that he shares with hit men, prostitutes, dealers, servants and the odd corrupt politician or two.
Down the Rabbit Hole, a masterful and darkly comic first novel, is the chronicle of a delirious journey to grant a child’s wish.
- Down the Rabbit Hole was shortlisted for the Guardian First Book Award 2011 and the Oxford-Weidenfeld Translation Prize 2012.
- Read And Other Stories publisher Stefan Tobler’s thoughts on Juan Pablo Villalobos’ Guardian First Book Award shortlisting and the unprecedented success of And Other Stories’ first year of publishing here.
- Readers of Spanish may be interested to read more reviews and other thoughts posted on Villalobos’ website.
- Down the Rabbit Hole has created quite a buzz in the Spanish-speaking world and beyond. It was published in Spain in 2010 (Anagrama) and has already been translated into Portuguese, French, Italian, German, Romanian, Dutch and English.
- Farrar Straus and Giroux will publish the Rosalind Harvey translation in the United States in autumn 2012.
- If you subscribed to And Other Stories before this book’s publication, you would have received one of the limited number stamped, early copies of it and 3 other And Other Stories 2011 titles. Find out about subscribing to upcoming titles here.
Praise for Juan Pablo Villalobos
- ‘A pint-size novel about innocence, beastliness and a child learning the lingo in a drug wonderland. Funny, convincing, appalling, it’s a punch-packer for one so small.’ Ali Smith, Book of the Year in the Daily Telegraph
- ‘Down the Rabbit Hole is a miniature high-speed experiment with perspective … a deliberate, wild attack on the conventions of literature.’ Adam Thirlwell
- ‘That rarest of animals, a book that is, to all intents and purposes, perfect.’ Sarah Churchwell, Book of the Year in the New Statesman
- ‘Juan Pablo Villalobos, channeled Mexico’s drug wars via the voice of a narco-baron’s son in his touching and invigorating Down the Rabbit Hole.’ Boyd Tonkin, in his round-up of the year’s best fiction, The Independent
- ‘If you’re going to have an imprisoned child narrate a novel, then not so much as a word should be out of place. There are no such slips in Juan Pablo Villalobos’s debut novella. We have here a control over the material which is so tight it is almost claustrophobic. [...] This is a novel about failing to understand the bigger picture, and in its absence we can see it more clearly.’ Nicholas Lezard, Choice of the Week, The Guardian
- ‘The cumulative parodic effect is chillingly powerful.’ Edward King, Sunday Times
- ‘Juan Pablo Villalobos brilliantly encapsulates the chaos of a lawless existence in which, under the sway of drug lords, anything might happen and everything goes. [...] Down the Rabbit Hole is an astonishing debut from Villalobos’ Lucy Popescu, The Independent
- ‘Villalobos creates Tochtli’s half-corrupt, half-innocent world [...] with a brilliant, tragi-comic light touch.’ Jane Shilling, Daily Mail
- ‘Refreshingly original’ Ángel Gurría-Quintana, FT
- ‘For anyone interested in point of view in creative writing ‘Down the Rabbit Hole’ is a masterclass.’ Kate Pullinger
- ‘A beautifully realised short novel that narrates the daily life of a powerful drug lord ensconced in his palatial hideaway, seen through the clear eyes of his young son . . . A brief and majestic debut that converts the ‘drug novel’ into a fascinating narrative.’ Matías Néspolo, El Mundo
- ‘Despite the – apparent – naivety with which the story is told, despite the fact that the child speaks as if he were a child telling a story (and herein lies the irony and acid humour of Villalobos) this child is in actual fact the son of an extremely powerful drugs lord and we quickly recognise the nature of his environment… This is the precise point of view with which Villalobos has chosen to view this narco-reality within a Mexican context.’ Javier Goñi, El País
- ‘Don’t miss this refreshing little novel, even if it is only to enjoy the delicious literary comfort that allows us to endure the sordid, cruel reality of the world it describes.’ Enrique García Fuentes, Hoy de Extremadura
- ‘With this book we have discovered Juan Pablo Villalobos, a linguistic virtuoso able to penetrate the elusive world of literature, shedding light on many of its mysteries.’ José Antonio Aguado, Diari de Terrassa
- ‘Down the Rabbit Hole is an dazzling and unsettling literary exercise… Villalobos plays with a double-edged sword: the horror of our reactions as readers is contrasted with the almost trivial way the narrator describes his daily existence… Down the Rabbit Hole could well become a classic of the genre. A novel that breaks our hearts (which we knew were already broken, but which still hurt) and invites us both to laugh and inevitably to reflect on the political subtext, highly relevant in a contemporary context.’ Ricardo García Mainou, El Economista
- ‘With Down the Rabbit Hole, Juan Pablo Villalobos has made a dramatic entrance into the literary world. It is a book that must be read for its great aesthetic value and darkly humorous tone. A book that throws a clear light on a dark subject.’ Teresa García Díaz, Amerika
- ‘Amidst this boom of so-called “narco-literature”, Villalobos has managed to avoid lapsing into moralism through the voice of his child narrator, which is strange and cruel in its innocence’ Gabriela Wiener, El País