Hagedorn's first novel is a brash, defiant, punk rock kind of a book, a technicolor collage of the Philippines in the 1950s. Rather than following a traditional novel structure, the chapters read like slaps in the face: quick, seemingly senseless, and also surprisingly intimate. We jump from the perspective of 10-year-old Rio, a privileged daughter of the upper-class Gonzagas; to a DJ named Joey Sands, who turns tricks at the club where he works; to starlet Lolita Luna who has become the kept woman of a notorious general; to the general's pious and long-suffering wife who hopelessly tries to atone for her husband's sins; and if you aren't feeling whiplashed yet, keep reading. The magic of this novel is in how gleefully it occupies all its narrators' voices, and in doing so sweeps us through a country of contradictions, of bloody legacy, of romance, and of revolution.
“As sharp and fast as a street boy’s razor . . . a rich small feast of a book.”—The New York Times Book Review
Welcome to Manila in the turbulent period of the Philippines’ late dictator. It is a world in which American pop culture and local Filipino tradition mix flamboyantly, and gossip, storytelling, and extravagant behavior thrive.
A wildly disparate group of characters—from movie stars to waiters, from a young junkie to the richest man in the Philippines—becomes caught up in a spiral of events culminating in a beauty pageant, a film festival, and an assassination. In the center of this maelstrom is Rio, a feisty schoolgirl who will grow up to live in America and look back with longing on the land of her youth.
“Entertaining and compelling. . . . At the end, you emerge from its intense, dreamlike world feeling as if you’ve been to the Philippines.”—The Philadelphia Inquirer
“Hagedorn transcends social strata, gender, culture, and politics in this exuberant, witty, and telling portrait of Philippine society.”—The San Diego Union
About the Author
Jessica Hagedorn is the author of the novels Dogeaters and The Gangster of Love, Dream Jungle, and a collection of poetry and short fiction, Danger and Beauty.
Coverage from NPR
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