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.
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"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