Quesadillas by Juan Pablo Villalobos

Villalobos has come to stay – and to say loud and clear that in Mexico almost anything is possible...
El Periódico de Catalunya

Juan Pablo Villalobos

Rosalind Harvey

Neel Mukherjee

Price: £10 (print), £5 / $8 (ebook)

B Format Paperback with French flaps


eBook ISBN:

Original language:

Published by:
And Other Stories

Publication date:
1 September 2013

Anarchy in Mexico – a comic novel about screwed-up families and politics from the author of Down the Rabbit Hole

It’s the 1980s in Lagos de Moreno – a town where there are more cows than people, and more priests than cows – and a poor family is struggling to get by. The father, a school teacher, insists on practising and teaching the art of the insult, while the mother prepares hundreds of quesadillas to serve to their numerous progeny: Aristotle, Orestes, Archilochus, Callimachus, Electra, Castor and Pollux. The family witnesses a revolt against the Institutional Revolutionary Party and its umpteenth electoral fraud. This political upheaval is only the beginning of Orestes’ adventures and his uproarious crusade against the boredom of rustic life and the tyranny of his older brother.

In Quesadillas Juan Pablo Villalobos serves up a wild banquet. Chock-full of inseminated cows, Polish immigrants, parading pilgrims, alien spacecraft and psychedelic watermelons, almost anything goes in this madcap Mexican satire of politics and class.

New 2016 edition paperback

New 2016 edition paperback

To be re-released in the UK with a new cover design in January 2016


Price: £7.99

Format: Trade Paperback

ISBN: 9781908276698

Published by: And Other Stories

Publication date: 7 January 2016




Praise for Quesadillas

  • Piles absurdity upon improbability with gleeful abandon. Yet the book is as much a coruscating parody of Mexican culture as Villalobos’s debut, Down the Rabbit Hole, which was shortlisted for the 2011 Guardian first book award . . . Quesadillas,translated by Rosalind Harvey, does for magic realism what Down the Rabbit Hole did for “narco-literature” . . . The high-keyed domestic comedy is enjoyable for its own sake, but provides cover for a satirical assault on the mendacity of Mexican politics.’ Alfred Hickling, The Guardian
  • ‘Off the beaten track, Juan Pablo Villalobos followed up his Guardian first book award-shortlisted Down the Rabbit Hole with a satire of Mexican politics and dysfunctional families, Quesadillas (And Other Stories): black comedy done with a light touch, it’s stylish, scabrous, and hugely enjoyable.’ Justine Jordan, Best Books of 2013, The Guardian
  • ‘A raucous picaresque . . . structured like a memory, elliptical and episodic . . . The novel’s irreverent tone and brevity bring to mind the satires of Villalobos’s countryman, Jorge Ibargüengoitia; and in its extreme situations and fantastical occurrences we see a concerted attack on literary realism.’ Matt Lewis, Times Literary Supplement
  • ‘Short, dark, comic, ribald and surreal . . . manic-impressive.’ Dwight Garner, New York Times
  • ‘Villalobos mines Mexico for its everyday surrealism, even as he mocks how outsiders exoticize his country.’ Rachel Nolan, New York Times
  • ‘Villalobos . . . fuses personal mythologies and political margins in his new novel, a riotous tall tale . . . Calling it magical realism would be lazy, given the undertone of socially conscious indignation that underlies often-fantastical imagery . . . With tidy, uncompromised prose, Villalobos has inaugurated a new kind of avant-garde novel, one whose grasp of certain dehumanizing political realities never erodes the power to dream something better.’ Publishers Weekly
  • ‘Guaranteed to entertain, from its attention-grabbing opening line to its gloriously bizarre climax.’ Ángel Gurría-Quintana, Financial Times
  • ‘This book will deliver a much-needed jolt to the Anglosphere cocooned in its realism-induced narcolepsy.’ Neel Mukherjee
  • ‘Villalobos’s latest book, Quesadillas, is surreal, and not without laughs – the stoner uncle is called Pink Floyd.’ Sinead Gleeson, Irish Times
  • ‘Quesadillas is gloriously absurd, celebrates the fantastical, and plays with notions of magic realism. But it is Villalobos’s quirky, laconic style that most impresses and marks him out as a writer of distinction.’ Lucy Popescu, The Independent
  • Quesadillasis bursting with Villalobos’ comic invention.’ El País
  • ‘The modern novel’s three commands are that it should be “Funny, Brutalist and short”, in our hero B.S. Johnson’s words. Villalobos’ Quesadillas fulfils this perfectly.’ Kiko Amat
  • ‘Pure fantastical rapture, a kaleidoscopic story about anger and adolescence.’ Julie Morse, The Rumpus
  • ‘An entertaining satire on political corruption in 1980’s Mexico . . . this picaresque coming-of-age story goes from the absurdist to the totally surreal, engaging the reader without sentimentality.’ Anne Horton-Smith, Whichbook
  • ‘Villalobos has come to stay – and to say loud and clear that in Mexico almost anything is possible.’ El Periódico de Catalunya
  • ‘Fascinating, thought-provoking and involving’ Empty the Bookshelf
  • Quesadillas marks Juan Pablo Villalobos out as a talent to watch . . . hopefully [he] grows into an important voice coming out of Central America.’ Matt Tod, A Novel Approach
  • ‘[a] vibrant, comic novel’ Leigh Newman, Oprah.com
  • ‘A rambunctious, energetic piece of writing. Madcap and effervescent, this story of a teenager’s desire to escape his dull, supposedly middle class family home is an education and entertainment. An education because it gives us insights into another country’s way of life . . . Entertainment, because you’ll laugh out loud from page one till you catch your breath at the end . . . Rosalind Harvey’s translation captures the exuberance of the original, and this short novel is accompanied by author’s notes, a glossary, and an introduction by Neel Mukherjee which sets the context for this magic realist / absurd / riotous satire of economic and political aspiration.’ Book Trust
  • ‘Excellent satire, absolutely hilarious and smart. This takes on class in Mexico or anywhere for that matter in a really useful way.’ Roxane Gay, author of Bad Feminist and An Untamed State

More information

  • Read more about Juan Pablo Villalobos on our authors’ page.
  • Villalobos’ first novel Down the Rabbit Hole was shortlisted for the Guardian First Book Award 2011 and the Oxford-Weidenfeld Translation Prize 2012.
  • Readers of Spanish may be interested to read more reviews and other thoughts posted on Villalobos’ website.
  • If you had subscribed to And Other Stories before before Quesadillas went to the printers, you would have received one of the first copies of the book – in which all subscribers are thanked by name – before its official publication, as well as up to five other And Other Stories titles per year. Find out about subscribing to upcoming titles here.
  • Read more about Juan Pablo Villalobos’s other works: I’ll Sell You a Dog, which is to be published by And Other Stories in 2016 and the Guardian First Book Award shortlisted novel Down the Rabbit Hole.

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