‘The Town of Babylon’: Alejandro Varela’s debut novel struggles with queer, racial, and class identity
New York-based Latino writer Alejandro Varela weaves together histories of immigration, economic unease, and the health complications of racism in America.
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New York-based Latino author Alejandro Varela debuted his The Town of Babylon, an intimate novel about a gay Latino public health professor returning to his suburban hometown to care for his ailing father.
During this short stay, Andrés is forced to revaluate his rocky marriage in the wake of his husband’s infidelity and with little else to do, decides to attend his 20-year high school reunion, where he runs into the long-lost characters of his youth.
Jeremy, his first love, is now married with two children after having been incarcerated and recovering from addiction. Paul, who Andrés has long suspected of having killed a man in a homophobic attack, is now an Evangelical minister and father of five. And Simone, Andrés' best friend, is in a psychiatric institution following a diagnosis of schizophrenia.
While waiting for his father to recover, Andrés confronts these relationships, the death of his brother, and the many sacrifices his parents made to offer him a better life.
A novel about the essential nature of community in maintaining one’s own health, The Town of Babylon is an intimate portrait of queer, racial, and class identity, a call to reevaluate the ties of societal bonds and the systems in which they are forged.
My life is signing books and DMing perfect strangers to ask them for favors. Also, squinting. Plus I'm having a good hair day. pic.twitter.com/4CvXJVF6jN— Alejandro Varela (@drovarela) March 11, 2022
Alejandro Varela (he/him) is a writer based in New York. His work has appeared in The Point Magazine, Boston Review, Harper's Magazine, The New Republic, among others, and has received honorable mention from Glimmer Train Press. Varela was an associate editor at Apogee Journal from 2015 to 2020. His graduate studies were in public health. The Town of Babylon (Astra House, 2022) is his first book.