Publication Date: 01/09/2013 ISBN: 9781908276223 Category:


Juan Pablo Villalobos

Publisher: And Other Stories
Publication Date: 01/09/2013 ISBN: 9781908276223 Category:
General Merchandise



Mr B's review

An absurdist family portrait with a healthy side of political satire. In the forgettable Mexican town of Lagos de Moreno, Orestes is doing his best to endure the poverty and chaos of his young life. He wants out, but there’s no money and even fewer opportunities – plus two of his siblings have gone missing, his brother is scheming and his mother’s quesadillas keep getting worse. Cue the inexplicable. – Laura 


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.

Publisher Review

‘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.’ Alfred Hickling, The Guardian ——– ‘Off the beaten track, Juan Pablo Villalobos followed up his Guardian first book award-shortlisted Down the Rabbit Hole with a satire of Mexican politics and dysfunctional families, Quesadillas (And Other Stories): black comedy done with a light touch, it’s stylish, scabrous, and hugely enjoyable.’ Justine Jordan, Best Books of 2013, The Guardian ——– ‘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 Ibarguengoitia; and in its extreme situations and fantastical occurrences we see a concerted attack on literary realism.’ Matt Lewis, TLS ——– ‘Short, dark, comic, ribald and surreal – manic-impressive.’ Dwight Garner, New York Times ——– ‘Villalobos mines Mexico for its everyday surrealism, even as he mocks how outsiders exoticize his country.’ Rachel Nolan, New York Times ——– ‘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.’ Publishers Weekly ——– ‘Guaranteed to entertain, from its attention-grabbing opening line to its gloriously bizarre climax.’ Angel Gurria-Quintana, Financial Times ‘This book will deliver a much-needed jolt to the Anglosphere cocooned in its realism-induced narcolepsy.’ Neel Mukherjee ——– ‘Villalobos’s latest book, Quesadillas, is surreal, and not without laughs – the stoner uncle is called Pink Floyd.’ Sinead Gleeson, Irish Times ‘Quesadillas is gloriously absurd, celebrates the fantastical, and plays with notions of magic realism. It is his delight in language that marks out Villalobos as a writer of distinction. He is well served by Rosalind Harvey’s flawless translation.’ Lucy Popescu, Books of the Year, English PEN ——– ‘Quesadillas is bursting with Villalobos’ comic invention.’ El Pais ——– ‘The modern novel’s three commands are that it should be “Funny, Brutalist and short”, in our hero B.S. Johnson’s words. Villalobos’ Quesadillas fulfils this perfectly.’ Kiko Amat ——– ‘Pure fantastical rapture, a kaleidoscopic story about anger and adolescence.’ Julie Morse, The Rumpus ——– ‘An entertaining satire on political corruption in 1980’s Mexico – this picaresque coming-of-age story goes from the absurdist to the totally surreal, engaging the reader without sentimentality.’ Anne Horton-Smith, Whichbook ——– ‘Villalobos has come to stay – and to say loud and clear that in Mexico almost anything is possible.’ El Periodico de Catalunya ——– ‘Fascinating, thought-provoking and involving’ Empty the Bookshelf ‘Quesadillas marks Juan Pablo Villalobos out as a talent to watch – hopefully [he] grows into an important voice coming out of Central America.’ Matt Tod, A Novel Approach ——– ‘[a] vibrant, comic novel’ Leigh Newman, ——– ‘A rambunctious, energetic piece of writing. Madcap and effervescent, this story of a teenager’s desire to escape his dull, supposedly middle class family home is an education and entertainment. An education because it gives us insights into another country’s way of life – Entertainment, because you’ll laugh out loud from page one till you catch your breath at the end. Rosalind Harvey’s translation captures the exuberance of the original, and this short novel is accompanied by author’s notes, a glossary, and an introduction by Neel Mukherjee which sets the context for this magic realist / absurd / riotous satire of economic and political aspiration.’ Book Trust

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