The cover of The Town of Babylon

The Town of Babylon

Alejandro Varela ’01

In a starred review, Publishers Weekly praises Varela’s first novel as a “dazzling debut” and an “incandescent bildungsroman.” Its gay Latinx protagonist, Andrés, is a professor of public health who returns to his suburban hometown of the title after his father falls ill. With his marriage on the rocks—his husband has been unfaithful—Andrés decides to attend his 20th high school reunion, leading him to reconnect with several key figures from his youth. They include his first love (a recovering addict and ex-convict, now married with children); a classmate he long suspected of being a violent homophobe who has since become an Evangelical minister; and a close female friend who has been hospitalized for schizophrenia. As Kirkus observes, “the novel’s achievement lies in its simultaneous depth and expansiveness—its huge ensemble of characters, the precision with which the landscape and culture of Andrés’s hometown are rendered.”

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