A Novel

Juan Pablo Villalobos; Translated from the Spanish by Rosalind Harvey; Introduction by Neel Mukherjee

FSG Originals

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, Mexican author 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.


Read an Excerpt


‘Go and fuck your fucking mother, you bastard, fuck off!’
I know this isn’t an appropriate way to begin, but the story of me and my family is full of insults. If I’m really going to report everything that happened, I’m going to have to write down a whole load of mother-related insults. I swear there’s no other way to do it, because the story unfolded in the place where I was born and grew up, Lagos de Moreno, in Los Altos, Jalisco, a region that, to add insult to injury, is located in Mexico. Allow me to point out a


Praise for Quesadillas

Praise for Quesadillas


“Villalobos is one tablespoon Eugene Ionesco, desperately but hopefully advocating nihilism; a dash of Harold Pinter, catapulting his characters into oblivion; and a pinch of Suzan Lori-Parks, igniting political allegory with sibling rivalry . . . Pure fantastical rapture.” —Julie Morse, The Rumpus


Quesadillas is fast-paced and colloquial; it is troubling and funny all at once . . . Quesadillas is an  unusual and important novel that deserves to be read.” —Arthur Dixon, World Literature Today


“Mr. Villalobos’s novels are short, dark, comic, ribald and surreal. They aren’t so much manic-depressive as they are, to borrow Delmore Schwartz’s phrasing, manic-impressive. This writer stares down serious issues—poverty, class, systemic violence—and doesn’t analyze them so much as sneeze all over them . . . It’s all delicious, and resonant.” —Dwight Garner, The New York Times Book Review


“[A] vibrant, comic novel.” —Leigh Newman, Oprah.com

“A wildly funny farce that's also surprisingly moving.” —BookPage

“Wonderful . . . This is a rich book—an inflationary quesadilla, overflowing with cheese.” —Benjamin Rybeck, Three Guys One Book

“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.” —Nick DiMartino, 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.” —Jason Diamond, 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.” —Alfred Hickling, 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)


In the Press

Reviews from Goodreads



  • Juan Pablo Villalobos; Translated from the Spanish by Rosalind Harvey; Introduction by Neel Mukherjee

  • Juan Pablo Villalobos was born in Guadalajara, Mexico, in 1973, and lives in Brazil, where he writes for various publications and teaches courses in Spanish literature. He has written literary criticism, film criticism, and short stories. Villalobos is the author of Down the Rabbit Hole (FSG, 2012), which has been translated into fifteen languages.
  • Juan Pablo Villalobos © Lisbeth Salas


Available Formats and Book Details


A Novel

Juan Pablo Villalobos; Translated from the Spanish by Rosalind Harvey; Introduction by Neel Mukherjee

The Guardian (UK) Best Books of the Year, Financial Times Books of the Year