by Iza Wojciechowska and Rosalind Harvey “Some people say I’m precocious,” begins Juan Pablo Villalobos’ super-slim, super-fast first novel, Down the Rabbit Hole. What follows is a beautiful, heart-breaking story told from the perspective of Tochtli, a precocious kid whose dad is a major Mexican drug lord. Tochtli has seen people murdered and has found his father’s gun room, but those things aren’t as important to him as collecting hats and acquiring a Liberian pygmy hippopotamus. Slowly, though, he begins to reconcile the world he understands with the world as it really is. Written in Spanish and translated by Rosalind Harvey, the book is an incredible debut—and a wonderful work of translation. This is Rosalind’s first solo translation, having previously worked with Anne McLean to co-translate Oblivion by Hector Abad (FSG, 2012) and Dublinesque by Enrique Vila-Matas (New Directions, 2012). I talked with Rosalind about Tochtli’s advanced vocabulary, her advice for young translators, and about the potential for more mainstream Estonian chick lit, Indonesian thrillers, and Bolivian erotica. Down the Rabbit Hole is the first book you have translated solo. How was it different than working with a co-translator? Do you have a preference for translating alone or with a partner? The main difference is the sense of responsibility—working with another translator, especially one of Anne [McLean]’s stature, you always feel a little more relaxed as you know someone else’s eyes will be checking over your work (as well as the editor’s, of course). And the books I did with Anne were by authors who had either specifically requested her or that she had ‘discovered,’ so while I loved working on them I knew I never fully owned them, so to speak. So the fact that I read Juan Pablo’s book shortly after it came out in Spanish, then took it to And Other Stories to persuade them of its worth, then translated it all working quite closely with Juan Pablo, meant I felt a huge responsibility to get it right and to do his work justice in English. Which is scary, but the flipside of that is that you get to enjoy the end result even more than with a co-translation! I enjoy both ways of working though, and am currently doing another co-translation with Frank Wynne, and further down the line I would love to give a leg up to a less experienced translator by co-translating with them, as that’s what helped to get me where I am today.