Juan Pablo Villalobos

Quesadillas (first edition)

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.

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  • With an introduction by Neel Mukherjee.
  • Read more about Juan Pablo Villalobos on our authors’ page.
  • Villalobos’ first novel Down the Rabbit Hole was shortlisted for the 2011 Guardian First Book Award and the 2012 Oxford-Weidenfeld Translation Prize.
  • 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.
Print status: Available
Original language: Spanish
Format: B-format paperback with flaps
Publication date: 5 September 2013
ISBN: 9781908276223
Ebook ISBN: 9781908276230
Availability: UK, Europe and Commonwealth (excl. Canada)

Reviews

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.’