Saturday, January 8, 2011

Miguel Syjuco

pen nibs Ilustrado

It Begins with a body.On a clear day in winter, the battered corpse of Crispin Salvador is pulled from the Hudson River—taken from the world is the controversial lion of Philippine literature. Missing, too, is the only manuscript of his final book. Enter Miguel, his student and only remaining friend, who makes it his mission to find out what happened to his friend and mentor, Miguel attempts to sort through the weft of Salvador's life, charting his trajectory through his poetry, interviews, novels, polemics, and memoirs, these literary fragments interlock to become stories, tales, become epic generational sagas linked like so many pieces from some large Jigsaw puzzle. As we follow Miguel’s journey home in search of more information, we come to realise that this book is as much about him, as it is about Salvador.

This story is told via rumour and jokes, via Blogs, text messages, through Miguel, through the works and interviews of Crispin Salvador and through the musings of seemingly omniscient narrator, it builds up layer upon layer resulting in a fascinating and dramatic family saga covering four generations, and 150 years of Philippine history, forged by blood and politics under the Spanish, the Americans, and the Filipinos themselves.Ilustrado_Cover

Constantly blurring our perception of what’s real, Illustrado becomes part metaphysical detective novel enthralled to Jorge Luis Borges, part satire on Philippine society (or at least the part of it the author  has intimate knowledge of).

 This is a wonderful fantastical debut novel, whether it’s the parts written as Crispin  Salvador, or as Miguel Syjuco, it conjures up  magical hallucinatory  images interwoven with the day to day reality - until past, present and future are all one tense, all one story.

And with this fiction of possibilities, entwined with the possibilities of fiction, I've woven in my own unlived life.


Garnering international prizes and acclaim before its publication, Ilustrado has been called “brilliantly conceived and stylishly executed . . .It is also ceaselessly entertaining, frequently raunchy, and effervescent with humour” (2008 Man Asian Literary Prize panel of judges).

“All life is a dream.

To attain the impossible,

we must attempt the absurd.”

Miguel Syjuco(wiki)

Publishers (M.Syjuco)


Anonymous said...

I really enjoyed this ,see you did too ,a unusal plot ,I loved the falshing in and out of styles he used ,feel he is a writer to watch for the future for sure ,all the best stu

Mel u said...

I can see I must soon post on this book, which I have on my shelves

@parridhlantern said...

@mel u: I will be interested in reading that, as I recall you commenting on another post (Stu) about some inaccuracies in its portrayal of Manila. But for the most part did you like it enough to read another book by him, I can easily say that I did.

Mel u said...

I will read another book by Syjuco for sure-partially my interest would be in reading the work of a promising author from the Philippines

@parridhlantern said...

@winstonsdad: yeah I did enjoy this one a lot, I remember a lot of posts I read were from people who didn't get it, didn't like the juxtaposition of styles & found it annoying because of this, also remember yours was one of the positive write ups, which was the reason I accessed the online library & ordered it thanks.

Rise said...

I think it also a very fine debut. The humor and the pathos are well placed. What was interpreted by some as overwritten I can consider ambitious. The ending was perfect.

@parridhlantern said...

@Rise: I loved this book & there are worst things a writer can be accused of, than being over ambitious, if that's the worst they can throw at him, then he's succeeded in writing a great debut. Anyway wouldn't being over ambitious fit in with whole book (lol)

Chelle said...

Thanks for letting me know about my Short Story Saturday post appearing on another website. Ten of my posts appear on that site and were taken without my permission or knowledge. I've sent a takedown request so I'll see if that works. Have you had your posts taken? Anywho, thanks again.

@parridhlantern said...

yes several, including one that would have no reference to anyone but me, as it discusses an accident I had earlier this year. I left comments on the site, but no answer.