Biography

Juan Pablo Villalobos was born in Guadalajara, Mexico, in 1973. 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. He lived in Barcelona for several years where he published his Guardian First Book Award-shortlisted debut, Down the Rabbit Hole, then moved to Brazil, before returning to Spain. He is married with two Mexican-Brazilian-Italian-Catalan children. His fourth novel I Don’t Expect Anyone to Believe Me won Spain’s prestigious Herralde Prize and will be published in English translation in 2019 by And Other Stories.

More Info

  • Read more about Juan Pablo Villalobos’s novels: I’ll Sell You a Dog, which was published by And Other Stories in 2016, his Guardian First Book Award-shortlisted Down the Rabbit Hole (which was the very first book we published, in 2011), and the ‘rambunctious, energetic’ Quesadillas, from 2013.

Reviews

Ali Smith
The Telegraph

‘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.’

Adam Thirlwell

Down the Rabbit Hole is a miniature high-speed experiment with perspective … a deliberate, wild attack on the conventions of literature.’

Sarah Churchwell
New Statesman

‘That rarest of animals, a book that is, to all intents and purposes, perfect.’

Boyd Tonkin
The Independent

'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.’

Nicholas Lezard
The Guardian

‘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.’

Edward King
Sunday Times

‘The cumulative parodic effect is chillingly powerful.’

Jane Shilling
The Daily Mail

'Villalobos creates Tochtli’s half-corrupt, half-innocent world […] with a brilliant, tragi-comic light touch.’

Alfred Hickling
The Guardian

‘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.’

Matt Lewis
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.’

Dwight Garner
New York Times

‘Short, dark, comic, ribald and surreal . . . manic-impressive.’

Rachel Nolan
New York Times Sunday Book Review

‘Villalobos mines Mexico for its everyday surrealism, even as he mocks how outsiders exoticize his country.’


Publishers Weekly

‘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.’

Ángel Gurría-Quintana
Financial Times

‘Guaranteed to entertain, from its attention-grabbing opening line to its gloriously bizarre climax.’

Neel Mukherjee

‘This book will deliver a much-needed jolt to the Anglosphere cocooned in its realism-induced narcolepsy.’

Lucy Popescu
The Independent

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.’

Alberto Manguel
The Guardian

‘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.’

Angel Gurria-Quintana
Financial Times

‘A triumph of quirky humour and social observation.’

Lili Wright
The New York Times

‘Comic capers abound . . . savagely funny.’


NPR

‘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.’


Kirkus

'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.’


Publishers Weekly

‘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.’


The Big Issue

‘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!'

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