Translated from the Spanish by Rosalind Harvey
Long before he was the taco seller whose ‘Gringo Dog’ recipe made him famous throughout Mexico City, our hero was an aspiring artist: an artist, that is, till his would-be girlfriend was stolen by Diego Rivera, and his dreams snuffed out by his hypochondriac mother. Now our hero is resident in a retirement home, where fending off boredom is far more gruelling than making tacos. Plagued by the literary salon that bumps about his building’s lobby and haunted by the self-pitying ghost of a neglected artist, Villalobos’s old man can’t help but misbehave.
He antagonises his neighbours, tortures American missionaries with passages from Adorno, flirts with the revolutionary greengrocer, and in short does everything that can be done to fend off the boredom of retirement and old age . . . while still holding a beer.
A delicious take-down of pretensions to cultural posterity, I’ll Sell You a Dog is a comic novel whose absurd inventions, scurrilous antics and oddball characters are vintage Villalobos.
About the author
Juan Pablo Villalobos was born in Guadalajara, Mexico, in 1973. His first novel, Down the Rabbit Hole, was the first translation to be shortlisted for the Guardian First Book Award (in 2011). He writes regularly for publications including Granta and translated Rodrigo de Souza Leão’s novel All Dogs are Blue (also published by And Other Stories) into Spanish. His work has been translated into fifteen languages. He lives in Barcelona and has two children.
Villalobos is a one of a kind writer. His absurd stories as dark as they are comic, as surreal as they are ordinary, with characters we do not know if we love or despise or both, entangle the reader in a vibrant plot. I’ll Sell You A Dog is so very well worth reading. Dare to enjoy it. As Alberto Manguel said “It is therefore surprising to find a Mexican writer who handles the technique of understatement so deftly: Juan Pablo Villalobos’s new book is one of the wittiest, most whimisical, most enjoyable novels to have been published in Spanish for a long time.”