Books: Quesadillas

PEN TRANSLATES white on black




By Juan Pablo Villalobos

Translated by Rosalind Harvey

Published by And Other Stories


While his father preaches Hellenic virtues and practises the art of the insult, Orestes’ mother prepares hundreds of quesadillas for Orestes and the rest of their brood: Aristotle, Archilocus, Callimachus, Electra, Castor and Pollux. She insists they are middle class, but Orestes is not convinced. And after another fraudulent election and the disappearance of his younger brothers Castor and Pollux, he heads off on an adventure.

Orestes meets a procession of pilgrims, a stoner uncle called Pink Floyd and a beguiling politician who teaches him how to lie, and he learns some valuable lessons about families, truth and bovine artificial insemination.

With Quesadillas, Juan Pablo Villalobos serves up a wild banquet. Anything goes in this madcap Mexican satire about politics, big families, and what it means to be middle class.

Juan Pablo Villalobos was born in Guadalajara, Mexico, in 1973. He studied marketing and Spanish literature. He has done a great deal of market research and published travel stories and literary and film criticism. 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 now lives in Brazil and has two Mexican-Brazilian-Italian-Catalan children.

Rosalind Harvey has lived in Lima and Norwich, where she fell in love with Spanish and translation respectively. She now lives in east London where she translates Hispanic fiction. She is currently working as translator in residence at London’s Free Word Centre and cotranslating the latest novel by Enrique Vila-Matas with Anne McLean. Her translation of Juan Pablo Villalobos’s novel Down the Rabbit Hole has been longlisted for the Guardian First Book Award.

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