Juan Pablo Villalobos was born in Guadalajara, Mexico, in 1973. He studied marketing and Spanish literature, before working as a market researcher, and writing travel stories and literary and film criticism. He has researched topics as diverse as the influence of the avant-garde on the work of César Aira and the flexibility of pipelines for electrical installations. His books include his Guardian First Book Award-shortlisted debut Down the Rabbit Hole, as well as Quesadillas and I’ll Sell You a Dog. He is married with two Mexican-Brazilian-Italian-Catalan children. I Don’t Expect Anyone to Believe Me is his fourth novel.
El Cultural, El Mundo
‘We laugh (a lot!), although perhaps we shouldn’t, as each laugh carries the implicit admission that some of what we are laughing at is actually true.’
‘With a torrential, expressive rhythm, a continuous series of happy absurdities, the nostalgic sensibility of the immigrant and a devastating humour, Juan Pablo Villalobos has written a magnificent novel that provokes reflection on multicultural values and the meaning and importance of tolerance.’
J.L Martín Nogales
Diario de Navarra
‘A sarcastic, entertaining and acidic story. A book that debunks literature, proposing the idea that a primary function of the novel is hedonistic. But, despite all its outrageous goings-on, this book becomes an artefact against reality, a satire against cliché, a literary artefact against meaninglessness and a defence of the vital importance of humour.'
‘Hilariously cutting, furnished with highly stylized coarse humour, Juan Pablo Villalobos’ novels do not follow any rules, other than the logic of the absurd . . . The author’s intelligence steers us through the jokes and disasters, and especially the nonsense, which he redeems with a leavening sarcasm that turns reading the book into a highly valuable act of literary renewal.’
‘I Don’t Expect Anyone to Believe Me is, among many other things, a playful and perverse game with the tradition of the Latin American perspective on Barcelona. And yet, the humour Villalobos employs is like that found in some of the most innovative recent Catalan literature. He is, clearly, a Barcelonan.’
‘By means of parody and the absurd, Villalobos’ latest novel I Don’t Expect Anyone to Believe Me plunges the reader into a merry game of confusion. The various narrators present us with a world in which the lives of the characters become so tangled up that fiction and reality fuse into one, creating a work brimming with irony, nonsense and a humour so sharp it allows the reader to glimpse, just behind it, a reality that is hilarious in itself.’
'His novels are hilarious because they are about serious subjects. He expresses himself with the lucidity of someone who knows we are being cheated. Villalobos—a bit like a Spanishlanguage Kurt Vonnegut—manages to escape the clichés that his country endures.'
Fernando García Ramírez
'Villalobos has found his own style and rhythm, distinct from all other writers on the Mexican narrative scene. He makes the reader laugh at the absurdity of life, showing us the essential meaninglessness of the world.'
‘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.’
‘Down the Rabbit Hole is a miniature high-speed experiment with perspective … a deliberate, wild attack on the conventions of literature.’
‘That rarest of animals, a book that is, to all intents and purposes, perfect.’
'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.’
‘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.’
‘The cumulative parodic effect is chillingly powerful.’
The Daily Mail
'Villalobos creates Tochtli’s half-corrupt, half-innocent world […] with a brilliant, tragi-comic light touch.’
‘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.’
Times Literary Supplement
‘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.’
New York Times
‘Short, dark, comic, ribald and surreal . . . manic-impressive.’
New York Times Sunday Book Review
‘Villalobos mines Mexico for its everyday surrealism, even as he mocks how outsiders exoticize his country.’
‘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.’
‘Guaranteed to entertain, from its attention-grabbing opening line to its gloriously bizarre climax.’
‘This book will deliver a much-needed jolt to the Anglosphere cocooned in its realism-induced narcolepsy.’
‘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.’
‘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.’
‘A triumph of quirky humour and social observation.’
The New York Times
‘Comic capers abound . . . savagely funny.’
‘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.’
'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.’
‘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.’
‘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!'