I Won't Expect Anyone to Believe Me
No voy a pedirle a nadie que me crea
«I don’t expect anyone to believe me», warns the narrator of this story, in which normality becomes delirious—without anyone actually knowing why—and the extraordinary becomes ordinary, leaving no other choice but to laugh, because everything is simultaneously hilarious, banal and surreal. Just like life itself.
Everything begins with a kid who was always a troublemaker: a future swindler, conning unsuspecting victims with an imaginary golf course he is about to build. He then involves the protagonist of this story—a Mexican who travels to Barcelona with his girlfriend to study literature who, furthermore, has the same name as the author of this book—in big trouble: a petty drug deal that turns his visit to the city into a disturbing adventure, which, if I described it to you, you probably wouldn’t believe anyway...
A miscellaneous group of unique characters turn up in these pages: dangerous drug dealers–Chucky, the Chinaman, the Pakistani, the Italian–; a girlfriend called Valentina who reads The savage detectives, is disconnected from reality and who is completely unaware of what’s happening around her; a girl called Laia, who the dodgy cousin met in Cancun, whose father is a corrupt, right-wing politician… And to add even more layers of complexity another girl called Laia appears: a redhead and a policewoman. There is also a dog called Viridiana; a girl who recites the poetry of Alejandra Pizarnik because her mother has it tattooed on her skin, and even the mother of the protagonist, who arrives from Mexico in search of her poor son, who hasn’t been heard of for months...
Juan Pablo Villalobos writes like Buster Keaton acted: he provokes a chuckle while remaining impassive, immobile. In his previous novels he had already started to describe a unique landscape of intriguing and eccentric characters who experience strange and interesting events. And now this book confirms his position as an essential author. In it, through the odyssey of a normal man who gets caught up in a series of bizarre adventures, he talks to us about reality and fiction, of the central importance of literature in our lives and of the fundamental role of humour.
«Aside from being caustic and hilarious, shaped by a broad and very stylized humor, the novels of Juan Pablo Villalobos are not constrained by any rules, except the logic of the absurd… But the intelligence of the author takes precedence over the gags and slapstick, and above all over the essential meaninglessness of life, which the author challenges with the relief of literary sigh that turns this novel into a valuable piece of literary excision» (Francisco Solano, Babelia, El País).
«A novel that challenges conventions. No voy a pedirle a nadie que me crea imagines corruption as the great untold story of our lives, at first entering what seems to be unlikely territory: the marginal and irrelevant worlds of Professors of Humanities and Lacanian seminars … Meanwhile we laugh (a lot!), although perhaps we shouldn’t, as each laugh carries the implicit admission that some of what we are laughing at is actually true» (Nadal Suau, El Cultural, El Mundo).
«Across the familiar urban geography of Barcelona, a series of frightening episodes, absurd stories, hilarious misunderstandings and strange situations occur, each of which show the integration of the Hispano-American mentality within European culture, here synthesised through a variety of subjects like Mexican soap operas, sentimental melodrama, mafia intrigues, ironic sketches about university academia and a criticism of everyday, badly disguised racism. Essential topics and transgressive narrative modes use humour to provoke a jocose critical complicity with the reader. Inevitably, the atmosphere of “The Condeferacy of Duncees” by John Kennedy Toole comes to mind, an inescapable reference for any satirical attack on our current age. With a torrential, expressive rhythm and a continuous series of happy absurdities, the nostalgic emotiveness of the immigrant and a demolishing humour, Juan Pablo Villalobos has written a magnificent novel that provokes a reflection on multicultural values and the meaning and importance of tolerance.» (Jesús Ferre, La Razón).
«An intensely noir and effervescent novel of intrigue in which the absurd never stops happening as it continuously rises in intensity… Villalobos breathlessly constructs a gimmicky and frenetic novel, dotted with cultural references (Nabokov, Ibargüengoitia, Volpi). Yet it is a novel full of action, in which increasingly murky events occur eventually leading to a dislocated and abrupt ending in the style of Tony Soprano. No voy a pedirle a nadie que me crea has more than the minimum quota of assassinations, extortions, betrayals, corruptions, conspiracy theories, love and indifference. There are also PhD students, mafiosi, squatters against the system, lesbians who are not so lesbian, government employees, a red-headed police woman, atheistic Pakistanis… As the title suggests No voy a pedirle a nadie que me crea is an authentic folly. A plot that gets crazier with every page as it makes impossible connections with a fractional and kaleidoscopic structure that is wholly original. A dark comedy in which humor and the literary games mix together with elements typical of crime novels» (Miguel Artaza, Pérgola)
«An audaciously absurd novel, because “there is no worse enemy of truth than narrative logic» (J.Á. Masoliver Ródenas, La Vanguardia)
«A sarcastic, entertaining and acidic story. A book that debunks literature, proposing the idea that a primary function of the novel is hedonistic. But, despite all its outrageous goings-on, this book becomes an artifact against reality, a satire against cliché, a literary artifact against meaninglessness and a defense of the vital importance of humour» (J.L Martín Nogales, Diario de Navarra).
TRANSLATION RIGHTS SALES
- Brazil (Companhia das Letras)
- The Netherlands (Karaat)
- United Kingdom (And Other Stories)
- France (Buchet & Chastel)
Juan Pablo Villalobos was born in Guadalajara, Mexico, in 1973. His first novel, Fiesta en la madriguera (Anagrama, 2010), published in English as Down the Rabbit Hole (Farrar, Strauss & Giroux, 2012) was shortlisted for The Guardian First Book Award), and with the last one, No voy a pedirle a nadie que me crea, (Anagrama, 2016) he was awarded the Herralde Novel Prize 2016. His novels has been translated into fifteen languages. He writes for several publications, including Granta, Letras Libres, Gatopardo and English Pen's Blog, and translates Brazilian literature into Spanish. He has been member of the judging panel of the José Revueltas National Prize for Young Novelists 2014, the International Dublin Literary Award 2016 and the Elena Poniatowska Iberoamerican Prize 2016. He has attended literary festivals and book fairs in Mexico, Spain, UK, United States, France, Germany, Brasil, Canada, Romania, Bulgaria, Denmark, Ireland, Portugal, Indonesia and Austria.
He left Mexico in 2003 and lived in Barcelona for several years, then moved to Brazil, and is now back in Spain. He is married with two Mexican-Brazilian-Catalan children.
OTHER TITLES BY Juan Pablo Villalobos