Long before he was the taco seller whose ‘Gringo Dog’ recipe made him famous throughout Mexico City, our hero was an aspiring artist: an artist, that is, till his would-be girlfriend was stolen by Diego Rivera, and his dreams snuffed out by his hypochondriac mother. Now our hero is resident in a retirement home, where fending off boredom is far more gruelling than making tacos. Plagued by the literary salon that bumps about his building’s lobby and haunted by the self-pitying ghost of a neglected artist, Villalobos’s old man can’t help but misbehave.
He antagonises his neighbours, tortures American missionaries with passages from Adorno, flirts with the revolutionary greengrocer, and in short does everything that can be done to fend off the boredom of retirement and old age . . . while still holding a beer.
A delicious take-down of pretensions to cultural posterity, I’ll Sell You a Dog is a comic novel whose absurd inventions, scurrilous antics and oddball characters are vintage Villalobos.
Praise for I’ll Sell You a Dog
- ‘One of the wittiest, most whimsical, most enjoyable novels to have been published in Spanish for a long time. The excellence of Villalobos in this English translation is due of course to the skill of Rosalind Harvey, who has also seamlessly rendered the varieties of Mexican Spanish into different tones of English, preserving their endemic nature without turning the characters into cross-dressed Cockneys or Liverpudlians.’ Alberto Manguel, The Guardian
- ‘A triumph of quirky humour and social observation.’ Angel Gurria-Quintana, Best Translated Books 2016 Financial Times
- ‘Comic capers abound . . . savagely funny.’ Lili Wright, New York Times
- ‘Our hero [is] what would happen if the serious young poet at the beginning of Roberto Bolaño’s The Savage Detectives grew up to run a taco stand and watch too much Curb Your Enthusiasm . . . Villalobos has a light touch, and perfect narrative control. He doesn’t lean too hard on his jokes and he doesn’t push a single character into caricature . . . I’ll Sell You a Dog is a satire, but it’s full of affection for art and for artists. Most of all, it’s a reminder that art comes from real people.’ NPR
- ‘A wry, sardonic romp made even more vibrant by its various satires and absurdities . . . [Villalobos] takes on Mexican history, literary theory, and the just-scraping-by lives of the 99 percent, all while telling a damn good story.’ Starred Review, Kirkus
- ‘Villalobos is a kind of miniature Proust . . . The affable I’ll Sell You A Dog finds lost time not in grand narratives but in the idle chatter of neighbors.’ Publishers Weekly
- ‘I’ll Sell You A Dog is a reminder of how effortless literature should be to love. This unexpected ride through a character’s second childhood, his building, neighbourhood and history is so magically twisted that it could be real. As ever Villalobos writes a peephole through politics and time, to simply watch us dance in all our lurid whimsy.’ DBC Pierre
- ‘Few authors write with such highly strung and poetic exuberance as Juan Pablo Villalobos. I’ll Sell You A Dog continues his trend for ridiculous characters, black comic satire and reverence for traditional Mexican dishes . . . share and enjoy!’ Big Issue
- ‘Villalobos subjects the colourful and at times very funny plot to a rigorously, gracefully applied style, which never projects reality but rather, sentence by sentence, constructs a parallel reality upon it . . . Nothing is real and yet at the same time, everything is recognizable . . . Villalobos has found a tone and a rhythm all his own, unlike anything else in Mexican fiction today. He makes the reader laugh at the absurd and as he does so, he reveals the senselessness of the world.’ Fernando García Ramírez, Letras Libras
- ‘With this, his third novel, Villalobos is confirmed as the definition of new Mexican literature.’ Matías Néspolo, El Mundo
- ‘Villalobos’s farce spares no one. And with the laughter there emerges a compassion for people living marginal lives which positions the novel on the side of the unexpected and unknown, as the novel demands the imagination’s autonomy over reality, thus rebuking the conventions of fiction in a way that is as stimulating as the novel’s humour.’ Francisco Solano, El País
- ‘Delightfully daft . . . A fast moving, irreverent carousel of a book. You will be sorry when the music stops and you have to get off.’ The Journal
- ‘One of the funniest books I have read so far this year.’ The Bookbinder’s Daughter
- If you had subscribed to And Other Stories before 9th December 2015, you would have received the first edition of the book – in which all subscribers are thanked by name – before its official publication, as well us up to five other And Other Stories titles per year. Find out about subscribing to upcoming titles here.
- Read more about Juan Pablo Villalobos on our author pages.
- I’ll Sell You a Dog chosen for New York Times editors’ picks.
- Read more about Juan Pablo Villalobos’s other works: the Guardian First Book Award shortlisted novel Down the Rabbit Hole and the ‘gloriously absurd’ Quesadillas.