Down the rabbit hole by Juan Pablo Villalobos or (dad I want a pygmy hippo)

Down the rabbit hole by Juan Pablo Villalobos

Source – review copy from &other stories

Translator – Rosalind Harvey

Juan Pablo Villalobos is a Mexican writer ,the studied marketing and spanish literature ,he has an interested in the avant grade having written about Cesar Aira ,he currently lives in Barcelona in Spain  .This is his Debut novel and has already been translated into 8 languages  since it came out last year ,including this English Translation ,that marks the start of a new Press in translation” and other stories ” .They’ll be so happy this was also the first book named on Guardians first book 2011 long list .

So what is this book about well ,dear me I gave a bit away in the title this about Tochtli a child ,well may I say this child is in some ways a normal child wanting thing he can’t have and telling us about his family ,cute you ‘re thing ,well er no cause Tochtli (this means rabbit in mexico main native language ) is the son of a notorious Mexican drugs baron and is well how do I put a little different to normal kids his age  he has the real swords and a real guillotine his house is full of the underworld characters hit men ,prostitutes and dodgy politicians  so when he turns round one day and says he wants a Liberian Pygmy hippopotamus for his collection of animals ,the people round his father’s luruxy hideout start finding a way to do this ,do they succeed well the best way to find out is to rush to the book shop and buy this thrilling ride of a book .

Today Paul Smith ,who hasn’t been to our place for a really long time ,about three months,came round .I found out I actually know fifteen people and not fourteen or fifteen .The thing is I wasn’t sure if Paul smith was still a person or if by now he was a corpse .I had my doubts because of one of Yolcaut’s enigmatic phrases,which he had said when asked once why Paul Smith didn’t come round any more .

“if he’s smart he’ll come back ,if he’s an asshole he won’t ”

You have to give a dark laugh as this is how Tochtli sees the world .

So this book is short seventy pages but hell it packs a punch in those seventy pages .We enter Villalobos dark comic world ,this is black comedy at it’s best Tochtli is a perfect glimpse into the surreal world of the Mexican drug barons as we see his day-to-day life we catch a little glimpse of what is happening in his fathers world and maybe why there at the hideaway at this time as he father tries to step up in his world .Tochtli rabbit hole is a place you wouldn’t want a kid to be but it is his rabbit hole and if he wants something no matter how odd it seems because of his rabbit hole being what it is he may just get it in the end .So I commend And other stories on a great first choice for the press ,these books were chosen as a result of reading groups with people reading books in the original spanish .I first came across via  a e-mail to me fro Stefan from and other ,so have mention them before for their reading groups here  .the translation is crisp and also a nice glossary of some words used in the text at the end which is handy .&other stories allow you to subscribe and via this you can have your name in the future  book s

Have you a book you heard of that you think should be translated ?

Would you read a book in another language to decide if its right for english translation ?


11 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. parrish lantern
    Aug 03, 2011 @ 21:11:58

    This sounds like my kind of book, loving the idea of the kid, like some little emperor & all the banditos running around trying to please him.


  2. rburdockRob
    Aug 04, 2011 @ 08:12:29

    A sharp review Stu, considering it’s not out until September (a fortnight AFTER his EdBookFest appearance :(). Regardless, I’m liking your thoughts – you’re obviously excited about this one, and why not? If it packs such a big punch in its measly 70 pages, then that’s a big reward for such a small reading time investment.


  3. amymckie
    Aug 04, 2011 @ 15:06:23

    What an interesting sounding book, very different!


  4. Caroline
    Aug 04, 2011 @ 18:59:21

    A short and powerful book is just my thing.
    I used to read books in foreign languages to decide whether they were right for German translation. Now I realize that most of my favourite German writers have not been translated. Frustrating and sad. I’d like to review them but who would care?


  5. Geosi
    Aug 05, 2011 @ 22:13:00

    You’ve been reading some fine pieces and this one is one of them. All the best stu.


  6. Trackback: Three novellas: Kaufman, Finley, Villalobos « Follow the Thread
  7. Trackback: the one who wears the crown is the one who’s made the most corpses | Pechorin's Journal

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August 2011


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