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The Disinherited: A Novel Hardcover – August 12, 2004

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux; 1st edition (August 12, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0374280754
  • ISBN-13: 978-0374280758
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.4 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,914,792 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Charity proves complicated in MacArthur Fellow Ong's second novel (after 2001's Fixer Chao). After making a fortune in sugar production in the Philippines's Negros Occidental province, corrupt family patriarch Jesus Caracera dies, unexpectedly leaving his 44-year-old, disaffected, Americanized son, Roger, much of his fortune. Stunned and appalled by his legacy, Roger announces his plans to give the money away, and much of the book portrays the hapless Roger, like a gloomy twin of the Magic Christian, going into the slums of Manila and the violent province of Negros to give away cash. His family is not really alarmed, however, until he decides to reward his late Uncle Eustacio's sexual obsession, Pitik Sindit, aka Blueboy, a boy prostitute and stripper whose fans, watching him gyrate awkwardly to ABBA songs, are moved to ejaculatory ecstasies. Pitik mistakes Roger's gesture as a seduction ploy. Or hopes that it is: Pitik falls hard for Roger, who is terminally straight or spiritually frigid—even Roger can't decide which. Pitik's crush is echoed by the more mercenary desire of a young Manila tennis player. Ong is a first-rate cartographer of the cultural map of Manila, and his novel is bracingly honest, with some standout scenes. But Roger's perpetual stasis—his "programmed funk"—isn't transformed by art into something the reader can fully sympathize with.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


"Ong [has a] gift for quick, acerbic caricatures and piercing observations about contemporary culture." --Janet Maslin, The New York Times

"Han Ong is at the forefront in an emerging canon of global novelists. He faces the worst injustice: the world economy multiplying some people's wealth while trapping others in unsolvable poverty. The Disinherited asks, What can individuals possibly do? How can they endure this tragic new world?" --Maxine Hong Kingston

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 1, 2006
Format: Hardcover
When Roger Caracera returns to the Philippines for his father's funeral, he gets more than he bargained for. Although never very close to the wealthy sugar magnate, Jesus Caracera, Roger is chosen as the chief inheritor to the old patriarch's immense fortune, giving him a tidy sum of $500,000, perhaps in an effort for Roger to reestablish a connection with his birthplace.

Roger has had an uneasy relationship with his homeland. More American than Philippino, Roger has long since rejected much of his restrictive, conservative upbringing, preferring to adopt the freewheeling "western ways." Now living in New York City and teaching writing at Columbia University, his return to Manila is viewed with suspicion and a certain chagrin by his older and cynical uncles and aunts.

For the Caracera family has been hiding a dark secret: Apparently Roger's Uncle Eustacio Caracera was gay and had willed a sizeable sum to Pitik Sindit, a child whore; a young, poor prostitute with whom he had fallen in love with. Shamed by his brothers and sisters, Eustacio had sequestered himself from his own immediate family, undertaking a willed ostracism, a careful quiet mutiny.

Annoyed that his family tried to derail Pitik's rightful inheritance, and full of guilt over his family's feudal wealth, Roger decides to track him down as well to give him his rightful bequest. While his relatives begin to view him as the "unearther, the burrower, and the formenter of old and new troubles," Roger comes to believe that he wants to leave some kind of signature behind, his actions reflecting a bedrock of selflessness.

Roger's journey leads him into the midst of Manila's most horrible slums as he witnesses the city's barely underground gay sex trade.
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Mark Chow on January 4, 2005
Format: Hardcover
I cant get through the book. Compared to fixer chao is just terrible, I am SO disappointed. I read the first 3 chapters and had no idea whats going on. I guess like everyone else in hollywood, success has spoiled this artist who I was once obsessed with after reading Fixer Chao. Moral of the story: Just because they come out with one good book doesn't mean you should run out and buy their next book. Han Ong, what were you thinking? Stylistically its out of control, you used to be so candid and honest and straightforward, now your words only confuse and depress me. I just cant recommend this book although Fixer Chao was the best book I read in 10 years, hands down.
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By John E. on September 2, 2008
Format: Paperback
The author's style and structure for "The Disinherited" are a challenge. This book is an even more serious challenge because there are no characters with whom most readers can easily or fully identify or sympathize. Their lives and living conditions are so far removed from American culture. The circumstances under which the main character (Roger Caracera) returns to and remains with his family in Manila are not welcoming, loving, pleasurable, or rejuvenating. He is accosted, hustled, patronized, politicized, and condemned. He is emotionally and intellectually unprepared to face the past and the unanticipated position in which he is placed -- the demand to know who he is and why. It would have been far easier if he had been disinherited, instead of the opposite.

All of that is what makes this an exceptional novel -- a challenge to read, and a challenge to like.
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