I’ve seen some of Butch Dalisay’s work in the movies and I’ve read his newspaper column every so often, but I must admit that I’ve never read any of his stories, and I thought I’d start this year. I normally try out authors by starting out with their shorter works, and I’ve got a copy of Dalisay’s Old Timer and Other Stories somewhere in my Everest of TBR book. But I’ve always wanted to read Soledad’s Sister, not just because it was shortlisted for the Man Asian Literary Prize in 2007, but because I read the back-of-the-book summary and it seemed quite interesting to me.
For the past few weeks, I’ve been raving about Miguel Syjuco’s “Ilustrado” to anyone who will listen! Hahaha, I’ve even managed to convince a bunch of people to go out and get copies (Dianne and Mike and Mike’s uncle, haha — I hope you like it as much I did!) because I couldn’t contain my excitement about it. Here’s my full length review (originally published in Manila Bulletin), and I hope it makes more people want to read it!
“When the author’s life of literature and exile reached its unscheduled terminus that anonymous February morning, he was close to completing the controversial book we’d all been waiting for.”
Thus begins Miguel Syjuco’s “Ilustrado,” winner of the 2008 Man Asian Literary Award and the Palanca Award, recently launched in the Philippine edition by Farrar, Straus and Giroux (International release is due this week — I think I’ll get myself a trade paperback of the international edition). I was waiting to board a plane to Davao, and I relished the ominous beginning as I settled down at the airport lounge for the first few chapters of this highly anticipated read.
Filipino writer-in-exile Crispin Salvador’s corpse is found floating in the Hudson River, and his student, Miguel Syjuco (yes, the same name as the author), wants answers. Miguel sets out to piece together Salvador’s life with fragments of his mentor’s body of work, personal history, interviews with friends and relatives, and other sources, telling his own life story along the way.
“Ilustrado” is not your typical Filipino novel, eschewing carabaos in the fields and sunlight the color of mangoes in favor of epistolary-style metafiction that uncannily mirrors Philippine culture, history and politics.
I spent most of last week in Davao City, toting along my review copy of Miguel Syjuco’s Ilustrado, winner of the 2008 Man Asian Literary Prize and the Palanca Award. It’s a metafictional novel that pieces together the life of Filipino writer-in-exile Crispin Salvador as his student, Miguel weaves together fragments of Salvador’s body of work, personal interviews, blog entries, newspaper clippings, and many other sources as he investigates his teacher’s mysterious death.
I spent most of my spare time engrossed in the novel — at the airport, on flights, and before hitting the sack at the hotel room — and I was looking forward to coming back to Manila to attend the press conference and launch at National Book Store.
The review will have to wait; I just finished the novel and I’m reviewing it for Manila Bulletin, so here’s a recap of the launch, the first release of Ilustrado anywhere in the world!
It’s a busy time for book events in the metro right now, and I’m tickled pink with excitement.
First off is a project I’ve kept under wraps for the past couple of months: Fully Booked’s Moleskine Passions Launch & “Share the Loves of Your Life” Exhibition, where I was invited to be one of the contributors for the Book category.
Moleskine unveils Moleskine Passions, a new thrilling collection of journals that celebrates passions as a way of life with a new inspiring exhibition: “Share the loves of your life” with Moleskine Passions.
Over 150 specialists and celebrities in Asia share the loves of their life and reveal their creativity through notes, drawing, clipping…The passions notebooks created by the participants are showcased in over 60 spots in 12 Asian cities.
Fully Booked brings part of the inspiring works to the audience in the Philippines. Artists and specialists from the Philippines were invited to share their passions on the new Moleskine notebooks, including Pastry Chef Aileen A. Anastacio (Recipe), Aaron Palileo (Wine), Blooey Singson (Book), Chef Bruce Lim (Recipe), Elian Habayeb (Music), Ines Cabarrus (Wine), Jeannie E. Javelosa (Wellness), Johnny Alegre (Music), Lyle Sacris (Film), Waise Azimi (Film), Yvette Tan (Book), and Agu Paiso (Wellness).