Synopses & Reviews
Tochtli lives in a palace. He loves hats, samurai, guillotines, and dictionaries, and what he wants more than anything right now is a new pet for his private zoo: a pygmy hippopotamus from Liberia. But Tochtli is a child whose father is a drug baron on the verge of taking over a powerful cartel, and Tochtli is growing up in a luxury hideout that he shares with hit men, prostitutes, dealers, servants, and the odd corrupt politician or two. Long-listed for The Guardian First Book Award, Down the Rabbit Hole, a masterful and darkly comic first novel, is the chronicle of a delirious journey to grant a child's wish.
"Tochtli (which means 'rabbit' in Nahuatl, Mexico's primary indigenous language) is a kid who knows, by his own count, only about 13 or 14 people, though that number would be bigger, he explains, if it also included 'corpses.' Such is the life of the son of an obscenely rich, violent, and understandably paranoid drug czar. Their secluded existence in a palace in the middle of nowhere accounts for Tochtli's isolation, as well as for his imagination and his gravity, the spellbinding combination of which makes this tiny debut novel so wonderful. To write convincingly in the voice of a child, particularly such an odd child, is difficult. Yet in Villalobos's exceptional rendering, Tochtli's fascination with the decapitated royalty of the French Revolution and with proving himself macho in front of his father mix perfectly. The voice never feels overwrought with would-be childlike quirks, nor does it ever read like a convenient lens through which to view an adult world. The cadence of the prose and the vulnerability of the boy create a devastating story." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
"A brief and majestic debut." Matías Néspolo, El Mundo
"Down the Rabbit Hole is a miniature high-speed experiment with perspective....A deliberate, wild attack on the conventions of literature." Adam Thirlwell
"Juan Pablo Villalobos brilliantly encapsulates the chaos of a lawless existence in which, under the sway of drug lords, anything might happen and everything goes....Down the Rabbit Hole is an astonishing debut." Lucy Popescu, The Independent
"If you're going to have an imprisoned child narrate a novel, then not so much as a word should be out of place. There are no such slips in Juan Pablo Villalobos's debut novella. We have here a control over the material which is so tight it is almost claustrophobic....This is a novel about failing to understand the bigger picture, and in its absence we can see it more clearly." Nicholas Lezard, The Guardian, Choice of the Week
"Villalobos creates Tochtli's half-corrupt, half-innocent world...with a brilliant, tragi-comic light touch." Jane Shilling, Daily Mail
"With this book we have discovered Juan Pablo Villalobos, a linguistic virtuoso able to penetrate the elusive world of literature, shedding light on many of its mysteries." José Antonio Aguado, Diari de Terrassa
"With Down the Rabbit Hole, Juan Pablo Villalobos has made a dramatic entrance into the literary world. It is a book that must be read for its great aesthetic value and darkly humorous tone. A book that throws a clear light on a dark subject." Teresa García Díaz, Amerika
About the Author
Juan Pablo Villalobos was born in Guadalajara, Mexico, in 1973. He studied marketing and Spanish literature. He has researched such diverse topics as the influence of the avant-garde on the work of César Aira and the flexibility of pipelines for electrical installations. He lives in Barcelona, Spain.