Meet the author: Juan Pablo Villalobos

Sat 25.03.2023
16:30 - 17:30
Juan Pablo Villalobos copyright juan lemus


meet the author, interview


weekend pass: €35/32 (€37 supporting united stages) - day pass: €20/17 (€22 supporting united stages)


the preferential rate offers a €3 discount for all who feel like they need it. paspartoe and article 27 accepted.


in spanish (translated into english)

Mexican author Juan Pablo Villalobos’s often hilarious novels combine two genres that rarely meet elsewhere: avant-garde literature and pulp fiction. Melissa Giardina wants to know all about this popular entertainment of the highest order that will make you laugh.

Juan Pablo Villalobos’s fifth novel, Invasion of the Spirit People, reads like a fable. It is a sci-fi pulp novel in which xenophobia and racism are fought with satire and absurdity. In an unnamed city colonized by an unnamed world power, we follow the daily worries of Gastón, an immigrant.

He makes a living selling forgotten vegetables to exclusive restaurants. His dog – named Kitten – has terminal cancer and his best friend Max is depressed now that he has had to close his restaurant. Max’s son, Arctic explorer Pol, can offer little help now that he has to go on a mission to the North Pole. All this forces Gastón to embark on a triple quest. He has to find someone to put his dog to sleep in a caring way; he has to find a place to open a new restaurant with Max; and he has to find out if there is any truth to the message Pol has sent him: that all human life is just a by-product of an alien attempt at colonization … and that the aliens are planning a return.

Invasion of the Spirit People is a celebration of connection, of friendship. This is a vision of the world that is anti-essentialist and anti-territorial, a vision that is completely inclusive.
El Mundo
An on-point satire of immigration politics. Villalobos hilariously sends up the ways in which racism and xenophobia sully the city’s strong cultural identity. Once again, Villalobos proves himself a jester.
Publishers Weekly

about the author

Juan Pablo Villalobos (b. 1973) was born in Guadalajara, Mexico, in 1973. He studied marketing and Spanish literature, before working as a market researcher, and writing travel stories and literary and film criticism. He has researched topics as diverse as the influence of the avant-garde on the work of César Aira and the flexibility of pipelines for electrical installations. His books include his Guardian First Book Award-shortlisted debut Down the Rabbit Hole, as well as Quesadillas and I’ll Sell You a Dog. He is married with two Mexican-Brazilian-Italian-Catalan children. Invasion of the Spirit people is his most recent novel.

about the moderator

Melissa Giardina (b. 1986) is the face of Vindetta!, a company that brings together everything Melissa loves to do most: moderating, interviewing and translating. She is also a voracious reader, keen on beauty and wonder. She worked as a bookseller for many years. Her roots are in Brussels but she lives and reads in Ghent.

ORG. Passa Porta, Accion Cultural España, Ambassade van Mexico, Instituto Cervantes

picture juan pablo villalobos © juan lemus

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