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3.63  ·  Rating details ·  1,273 ratings  ·  188 reviews
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 b ...more
Paperback, 180 pages
Published July 2013 by And Other Stories (first published September 1st 2012)
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3.63  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,273 ratings  ·  188 reviews

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Jan 16, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: humorous-fiction
God tightens the noose but doesn't strangle you.

After reading and loving I'll Sell You a Dog last year, I ordered all of Villalobos' novels; luckily there are only three, so it wasn't a terribly expensive proposition. This puppy was just waiting on my shelf, its neon green spine standing out in the crowd, begging to be taken down and loved.

And, what a weird little adventure it was: filled with satire, quesadillas, and bull semen. The plot ran all over the place, in and out of reality, at times a
Dec 23, 2014 rated it really liked it
Excellent satire, absolutely hilarious and smart. I would have liked the book to be longer and I wanted more of a narrative arc, or a sense of purpose. Nonetheless, this takes on class in Mexico or anywhere for that matter in a really useful way.
A lot of times swearwords are difficult to translate in all their colorful glory. The English version of the book tries hard to replicate the technicolor use of chingar in all its varied forms, but falls short. Surprisingly, this is an important factor in this book. As far a pacing goes, something seems a little off as well. In Spanish Villalobos really puts things like devaluation of the peso and alien abduction in the same category of absurdity, which is the book's strong point in its native l ...more
Wiebke (1book1review)
This was a very fast paced read that looks at class struggles in 1980s Mexico. The narrator is 13/14 year old Oresto and we see everything through his eyes tainted with childish naiveté and adolescent anger and frustration.
The story follows him and his family and how life looks and feels for him, being very poor and powerless.
Jun 18, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I didn't find this all that enjoyable, an okay read, but it felt too short and kind of pointless. Although looking back there were several moments in the story that made me laugh or hooked my interest. Only for them to lead nowhere. I think I'd have liked a longer and more developed story. Perhaps an author to try again in the future.
El Avestruz Liado
Dec 07, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Comedy is one of the sharpest knives for cutting through reality and few authors exploit it with more power or grace than Villalobos. In this book the struggle of social classes in a rather remote town in a society dominated by a party dictatorship is portrayed. A society with no idea of what democracy -or life without monetary inflation- is about relieves its existential issues by shielding themselves behind religion or any other wild idea... like aliens.

The trademark of this book is its humor
Jul 02, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, latinx-books
I wasn't sure what to think when I grabbed this book off the shelf at the library, but it sure wasn't this. This book is hilariously smart & sardonic as it criticizes Mexico's political, economic, and social class structure through the eyes of a large family living on a hill. All of the children are named after Greek philosophers, adding philosophical commentary undertones to the whole book. After two of the family's children go missing & a Polish family moves next door, the protagonist ...more
Ellie O'Sullivan
Sep 28, 2018 rated it liked it
Welcome to Mexico in the 1980s, Where mental health doesn’t matter. Do you know how hard it is to be a therapist in this town when literally nobody can afford you? Lagos De Moreno is so poor that people can’t focus on their debilitating mental health, because everyone in this town only know quesadillas and church. Quesadillas by Juan Pablo Villalobos, wow, what an original name. Recently, I’ve been reached out to by the eldest son of the family in this book. I wasn’t surprised. Aristotle sounds ...more
Gloria Mackay
Hilarious. Such a great book on the trials and tribulations of being poor - even when you don't understand they are trials and tribulations! My only complaint is that I should have read this book in Spanish. Some of the punch lines lose some of their "punch" in translation.
Sep 09, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: spanish
Pretty dang good.

Oh yeah, one more thing. Rosalind Harvey translated my copy. Internet says she's a big shot translator and I think she did a good job. My only bone is that she refers to wood pigeons several times throughout the book but there are no wood pigeons in Mexico. Wood pigeons (Columba palumbus) are, according to wiki, native to Southern and Western Europe with a migratory presence in Northern Europe and Western Asia. White-winged doves (Zenaida asiatica), however, are very common in
In my thusfar failed "career" in fiction, I've attempted to inject magical realism, and it doesn't work, at least per feedback I've received. Okay, one time it did work.

But is this book a work of magical realism? The book is not metafiction, to be sure - it's satire - though at one point it almost becomes self-aware, when one characters says that what is happening is impossible and our hero, young Orestes, reacts with the awareness that Mexico is known as a surreal country. Surely a nod to Marqu
Aug 29, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: first-reads
I won this book through Goodreads First Reads.

It's a story set in Mexico, that starts off as a basic tale of a family's struggle to survive. It throws up serious issues of poverty and equality but they are handled with humour, which makes this book an enjoyable read about a difficult subject.

I loved the writing style and the story was engaging throughout, meaning I easily finished it over a leisurely day's reading because I didn't want to put it down.

The ending was unexpected, it turns into more
Dan Martin
Sep 19, 2016 rated it really liked it
This little book packs quite a punch. Aliens, cows, missing kids, inept police chiefs, populate this satirical world, and it is quite the ride. The author has deftly written a story crammed full of laughs as he takes the reader on a journey through 1980 (?) Mexico, centering on a large family that learns to survive forces both external and internal by the number of quesadillas they get to eat each day. But with each turn of the page, as the story becomes crazier or fantastical, the author ground ...more
I won this book through First Reads in exchange for an honest review—thanks for choosing me!

I have a hard time looking at this book and not thinking of Napoleon Dynamite. Anyhow, this book is pretty nuts and I’m not really sure what to rate it exactly. I was quite interested in Orestes and his family and what it’s like to be ‘middle class’ in Mexico. I loved that Aristotle’s every other word was arsehole and I loved the rich neighbours next door in all their arrogant glory. But the last 5 or so
Mar 18, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
When in Mexico...

This is a hard one (really/probably 3.5 stars as I further explain). It is hilarious almost all of the time, the laugh out loud kind, for me at least. It was fast and engaging and well written, BUT I just didn't "get" the last 5-10 pages (the ultimate ending). I mean I "got" it, just didn't care for the direction it took. It was weird for me; that's all I will say. If you read it or if you've read it, let me know what you think.
"We'd even invented categories -- inflationary quesadillas, normal quesadillas, devaluation quesadillas, and poor man's quesadillas -- listed in order of greatest affluence to parsimony."

This book is brilliant. Juan Pablos Villalobos has such bitter, angry, important things to say about capitalism (in Mexico in the late 80s), and the absurdities he uses to say those things are delightful: "imported bull semen," aliens, intensely fertilized watermelons, an entire family named after the Greeks in
Jan 18, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
About a family of nine (two parents, seven children) and their ups and downs (mostly downs) on the surface, it’s actually about how terrible the Mexican government is at every level, especially to the poor, who will never have enough money to even attempt corruption. Narrated by main character Orestes (Oreo for short), this book was hilarious and sobering at the same time, which is quite difficult to pull off.
Sep 20, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Judge this book by its vibrant, eclectic cover and rush out to pick it up!! The story is about Orestes and his six brothers and sisters as they fight for their share of the Quesadillas at the table. Villalobos uses his naive voice ironically to write bitterly hilarious social/economical/political commentary surrounded by aliens, lesbian cows and magical red buttons. Loads of fun.
Pickle Farmer
Sep 06, 2013 rated it liked it
This book is a good follow-up to "Down the Rabbit Hole." Kudos to Villalobos for not imitating the success of that book--instead of sticking with the concept of "Rabbit" (in which the story was driven by a very unique and memorable voice), he takes things here in a decidedly different direction. The focus in this book is on the wacky events, surrealistic humor and political satire, rather than the voice. Overall the book feels a bit episodic, but I think maybe that was the point? To make fun of ...more
Richard Smith
Feb 08, 2017 rated it it was ok
I read this book partly because it was recommended by a literary friend and more because I was travelling to Mexico. I like to read a novel from the countries I visit when I’m there. The book paints a bleak picture of Mexico, but it hardly held my attention: neither the characters nor the plot engaged me. Indeed, the part I enjoyed most was the glossary, which explained various Mexican words and briefly summarised decades of incompetent and corrupt government by the PRI. I did read the brief int ...more
Dec 17, 2015 rated it really liked it
One of the quirkiest books Ive read in a while. Hard ti describe. Set in Mexico, so backdrop is of corruption and poverty. The narrator, Orestes (all his brothers and sisters are named after classical Greeks) is a teenager trying to survive and make sense of his world. Each day he competes at mealtimes for his share of Quesadillas - there are 80 fingers at the meal table so it is very competitive - whose thickness and nutritional content vary daily with the economy. They get very thin at times o ...more
Apr 24, 2014 rated it it was ok
Yes, being poor sucks, and being poor in Mexico really sucks. Other than reminding us that older brothers, crazy fathers and corrupt politicians also suck, the only thing this book has to offer is some mildly amusing references to Greek Mythology and alien abduction conspiracies. Unfortunately for the reader, Gabriel Garcia Marquez this guy ain’t and the attempts at magical realism fall painfully flat. Neither is this guy Carlos Fuentes so the reader has very little historical context in which t ...more
Onette Morales (Zabinski)
Jun 06, 2016 rated it really liked it
This was my Powell's Books find... and I am so glad I found it! This little book's packed with everything from Mexican politics and commentary, vivid descriptions of poverty (embedded with humor), big family life, swearing/cussing/slang terms (que todos ya conocemos), and aliens. Yup, aliens.

This book invited me to look into the complex history of my land and that is definitely a good thing. I look forward to reading more for Villalobos... though I'll likely look for the Spanish versions next t
Lolo S.
May 11, 2014 rated it liked it
Recommended to Lolo by:
A frantic little novel about the shit-tastic life of the poor in 1980s, surrealist, Mexico. Alien abductions, nameless politicians, senile grandparents, elitist Polish people from nowhere, and bovine insemination all make appearances in this Mexican-cum-Greek tragedy.

The book could have been longer, and more substantive. The narrator spends a lot of time cataloguing the types of quesadillas his family eats, depending on the financial times. At one point, the quesadillas are cooked over an open
May 01, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
So funny, so poignant.

"I had come back to eat quesadillas for free. In the end, for whatever reason, one always comes home, or one never really leaves, and everything ends up being about settling old scores with memory, or, rather, with language."
Feb 12, 2015 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: idlewild
My dentist saw this lying in my lap and wanted to know if it was a cookbook.

Update: not my thing but glad we read it for book group. 2.5 stars.
Aug 08, 2013 rated it really liked it
Loved this book. I particularly liked the way it ended. It was fantastical, but it was the best way to show the helplessness of the situation. More comments to come, after the summer hol.
Aug 27, 2013 rated it really liked it
A rollicking read. Mexican irony.
Richard Janzen
Feb 25, 2014 rated it really liked it
The humour/sature was sharp, and the language/images were incredible.
Only the ending, which took a quick twist into the fantastic, kept this from being 5 stars for me.
I came about this book due to the reviews of others from GoodReads as well as Youtube. This book is probably my third novel that follows a poor Mexican family (or family member) and some how manages to wrap you into their world, even if its for a short time. Quesadillas, by title alone, is not a book I would gravitate to on my own, however, after hearing the storyline, I had to have a read.

Quesadillas is told from the point of view of the main character, 13 -year old Orestes. He lives in a house
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Juan Pablo Villalobos nació en Guadalajara, México, en 1973. Estudió Marketing y Literatura Hispánica. Ha realizado cientos de estudios de mercado y ha publicado crónicas de viaje, crítica literaria y crítica de cine. Se ha ocupado de investigar temas tan dispares como la ergonomía de los retretes, la influencia de las vanguardias en la obra de César Aira, la flexibilidad de los poliductos para in ...more
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“en esta vida por cada victoria pinchísima nos corresponde un cataclismo cabroncísimo” 2 likes
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