Juan Pablo Villalobos

I Don’t Expect Anyone to Believe Me

Winner of the 2016 Herralde Prize

The author of Down the Rabbit Hole delivers a hilarious and prize-winning tale of immigrants, students and gangsters in Barcelona

“I don’t expect anyone to believe me,” warns the narrator of this novel, a Mexican student called Juan Pablo Villalobos. He is about to fly to Barcelona on a scholarship, when he’s kidnapped in a bookshop and whisked away by thugs to a basement. The gangsters are threatening his cousin – a wannabe entrepreneur known to some as “Projects” and to others as “dickhead” – who is gagged and tied to a chair. The thugs say Juan Pablo must work for them. His mission? To bring Laia, a student in Barcelona and the daughter of a corrupt politician, to fall in love with him. He accepts, albeit unwillingly, and albeit after the crime boss has forced him at gunpoint into a discussion on the limits of humour in literature.

Part campus novel, part gangster thriller, I Don’t Expect Anyone to Believe Me is Villalobos at his best, exuberantly foul-mouthed and intellectually agile. This hugely entertaining novel, the winner of Spain’s prestigious Herralde Prize, makes light work of difficult subjects – immigration, corruption, family loyalty and love – in a story where the bad guys aren’t as expected…and nor is anyone else.

Paperback: £11.99
EBook: £6.99
Print status: Upcoming
Translator: Daniel Hahn
Original language: Spanish
Format: B-format paperback with flaps
Publication date (UK): 30 April 2020
Publication date (US): 5 May 2020
ISBN: 9781911508489
Ebook ISBN: 9781911508496
Availability: World English
Number of pages: 288

Reviews

Nadal Suau
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.’

Jesús Ferre
La Razón

  ‘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.'

Francisco Solano
El País

‘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.’


El Cultural

‘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.’

Zyanya Dóniz
Criticismo

‘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.’

Miqui Otero
El Confidencial

'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
Letras Libres

'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.'