I Don’t Expect Anyone to Believe Me
Juan Pablo Villalobos, Daniel Hahn
‘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 make Laia, the daughter of a corrupt politician, fall in love with him. He accepts . . . though not before 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 finds the light side of difficult subjects – immigration, corruption, family loyalty and love – in a world where the difference between comedy and tragedy depends entirely on who’s telling the joke.
'A funny, moving account of status, power and immigration, which also dips into comic literary theory and author hang-ups. Highly entertaining, with a magnificent sucker-punch finish.' Paul Ewen ----'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.' Nadal Suau, El Cultural, El Mundo ----'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.' Jesus Ferre, La Razon ----'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 cliche, a literary artefact against meaninglessness and a defence of the vital importance of humour' J.L Martin Nogales, Diario de Navarra -----`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.' Francisco Solano, El Pais`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.' El Cultural ----`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.' Zyanya Doniz, Criticismo ----`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 Spanish-language Kurt Vonnegut - manages to escape the cliches that his country endures.' Miqui Otero, El Confidencial ----`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.' Fernando Garcia Ramirez, Letras Libres
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