The Town of Babylon


Product Details

$27.00  $25.11
Astra House
Publish Date
6.1 X 9.1 X 1.3 inches | 1.2 pounds

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About the Author

Alejandro Varela (he/him) is based in New York. His work has appeared in The Point magazine, Boston Review, Harper's Magazine, The Rumpus, Joyland Magazine, The Brooklyn Rail, The Offing, Blunderbuss Magazine, Pariahs (an anthology, SFA Press, 2016), the Southampton Review, and The New Republic. He is a 2019 Jerome Fellow in Literature and his graduate studies were in public health. The Town of Babylon is his first novel; his forthcoming story collection, The People Who Report More Stress, will publish in Spring 2023 by Astra House.


Alejandro Varela's The Town of Babylon takes the tedium and heartbreak of life and renders it in extraordinary ways. I am astonished by the way Varela captures that difficult liminality: where love, under certain circumstances, slights as much as it heals. He gets to the core of all the human pressures of living in a country where everything--everything--has a price. The Town of Babylon is haunting, sublime, solemn, and true.
--Robert Jones Jr., author of The New York Times bestselling The Prophets, finalist for the 2021 National Book Award for Fiction

Alejandro Varela's debut dazzles, astonishes, and grabs hold of your heart through the very last page. Heartbreak and secrets abound in this intense, astute meditation on race, family, class, love, and friendship. Varela's wry humor is the icing on the cake of this brilliant novel.
--Deesha Philyaw, author of The Secret Lives of Church Ladies, finalist for the 2020 National Book Award for Fiction

In Alejandro Varela's assured debut, a man's reluctant return to his hometown reveals that the past is not as distant as we sometimes tell ourselves it is. The Town of Babylon is funny and sexy as well as thoughtful, even heartbreaking. It's an incisive taxonomy of the American suburb, looking beyond the white picket fence to tell a different story--what it is to be queer, the child of immigrants, and a person of color in this country.
--Rumaan Alam, author of Leave the World Behind, finalist for the 2020 National Book Award for Fiction

The Town of Babylon is epic, intimate, hilarious, and heartrending: an unqualified achievement of the highest degree. Alejandro Varela captures suburbia's gridlocked travails alongside the infinitude of the heart, excavating and illuminating questions of home, family, debt, and happiness. It's as much a love story as it is a story about love in the world, broaching the impossible question of whether we can ever really go home again--but Varela clears it with ease. This book is a queer masterpiece and Varela's prose is masterful. I didn't want it to end.
--Bryan Washington, award-winning author of Memorial and Lot

A thoughtful deep dive into a gay Latino man's return to his working-class town, where his alienation lies in wait. Alejandro Varela's promising debut is filled with insight about the past that produced our wounds, and how, despite having answers to lifelong questions, it holds no redemption. Intimate and jarring.
--Sarah Schulman, author of After Delores and Let the Record Show

Alejandro Varela dissects the disease of suburban life in The Town of Babylon, a finely-crafted literary scalpel with two edges, one that cuts through the layers of a dying body politic and another that clears arteries blocking the way to the heart of personal and political health: community.
--Roberto Lovato, author of Unforgetting

The Town of Babylon marks the debut of a major talent. Alejandro Varela puts a new twist on the American contemporary novel dealing with immigration, identity, race and gender. His scope is wide, encompassing, and his vision of the 'melting pot' includes a generous portion of the various kinds of Americans that comprise the United States . . . The Town of Babylon made me consider pertinent questions that much contemporary fiction is too timid to delve into in a compassionate, piercing and unsentimental way. Varela's marvelous achievement reminds me of the world of John Updike's Rabbit Run and of the deeply troubled America in Philip Roth's American Pastoral.
--Jaime Manrique, author of Latin Moon In Manhattan