Synopses & Reviews
A brilliant new comic novel from “a linguistic virtuoso” (José Antonio Aguado, Diari de Terrassa
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 struggles to overcome the bizarre dangers of living in Mexico. The father, a high-school civics teacher, insists on practicing 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. Confined to their home, the family bears witness to the revolt against the Institutional Revolutionary Party and their umpteenth electoral fraud. This political upheaval is only the beginning of Orestes's adventures and his uproarious crusade against the boredom of rustic life and the tyranny of his older brother.
Both profoundly moving and wildly funny, Juan Pablo Villalobos's Quesadillas is a satiric masterpiece, chock-full of inseminated cows, Polish immigrants, religious pilgrims, alien spacecraft, psychedelic watermelons, and many, many "your mama" insults.
"Mexican novelist Villalobos (Down the Rabbit Hole) fuses personal mythologies and political margins in his new novel, a riotous tall tale set in the hills of Cerro de la Chingada and narrated by young Orestes, whose perennial concern, despite his family's crippling poverty, is wresting his daily share of his mother's quesadillas from his six brothers and sisters, 'all of them highly qualified strategists in the survival tactics of big families.' There's Aristotle, the eldest; Archilochus; Callimachus; Electra; and the 'pretend twins' Castor and Pollux, who go missing after a violent rebellion sweeps the countryside. Convinced that they've been kidnapped by aliens, Aristotle draws his brother into a search in which the imaginary merges with the realities of destitute backwater Mexico. Calling it magical realism would be lazy, given the undertone of socially conscious indignation that underlies often-fantastical imagery: a highway procession of pilgrims, 'an orgy of hysterical cows,' and the pervasive sense of a Greek epic confined to squalor. 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. Agent: Andrea Montejo, Indent Literary Agency. (Feb.)" Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
“[A] vibrant, comic novel.” Oprah.com
“A wildly funny farce that's also surprisingly moving.” BookPage
“It's a trick to use the f-word three times in a novel's first sentence and still be as charming and disarming as Juan Pablo Villalobos manages to be in the delightful Quesadillas....Quesadillas is frequently laugh-out-loud funny.” Shelf Awareness
“If you haven't expanded your horizons by reading literature from around the globe in 2014, Juan Pablo Villalobos, the Mexican-born writer living in Brazil, might be your best place to start.” Flavorwire
“Quesadillas...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.” The Guardian
“Riotous...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.” Kirkus (starred review)
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 is the author of Down the Rabbit Hole (FSG, 2012).