Juan Pablo Villalobos

Invasion of the Spirit People

Juan Pablo Villalobos’s fifth novel adopts a gentle, fable-like tone, approaching the problem of racism from the perspective that any position as idiotic as xenophobia can only be fought with sheer absurdity.

In an unnamed city, colonised by an unnamed world power, an immigrant named Gastón makes his living selling exotic vegetables to eateries around town. He has a dog called Kitten, who’s been diagnosed with terminal cancer, and a good friend called Max, who’s in a deep depression after being forced to close his restaurant. Meanwhile, Max’s son, Pol, a scientist away on a scientific expedition into the Arctic, can offer little support.

Faced with these dispiriting problems, Gastón begins a quest, or rather three: he must search for someone to put his dog to sleep humanely; he must find a space in which to open a new restaurant with Max; and he must look into the truth behind the news being sent back by Pol: that human life may be the by-product of an ancient alien attempt at colonisation . . . and that those aliens might intend to make a return visit.

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More Info

Translator: Rosalind Harvey
Original language: Spanish
Format: B-format paperback
Publication date: 12 July 2022
ISBN: 9781913505363
Ebook ISBN: 9781913505370
Availability: World English


Kirkus Reviews, starred review

‘This is a book about xenophobia and racism and the conflicted tug between isolation and community. It makes a fine – and deliciously strange – addition to Villalobos’ already grand personal canon. Wrought with tenderness, wit, and a wonderful sense of absurdity, Villalobos’ latest novel is a triumph.’

Nadal Suau
El Mundo

‘Invasion of the Spirit People is a celebration of closeness, of friendship . . . It implies a vision of the world that is anti-essentialist and anti-territorial, but is instead inclusive.’

Jordi Garrigós

‘An extraordinary novel that you can read in one sitting and which confirms Villalobos’s place among the great writers of the city. Stories of rootlessness like these are as valuable as a sociological treatise, especially when they let you know that there’s always a friend nearby to give you a hand, which is something that never appears in manuals.’