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Dogeaters Paperback – December 1, 2002

2.9 out of 5 stars 15 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Born and raised in the Philippines, poet and playwright Hagedorn sets her first novel in the volatile political climate of that country's recent past. Although in many respects a thinly disguised roman a clef , the book succeeds on the strength of its characterization. Hagedorn ( Dangerous Music ) weaves together the immature impressions of Rio Gonzaga, a spunky well-to-do Manilan schoolgirl whose life is influenced as much by the movies and radio serials as the tsismis (gossip) of her large extended family, with the voices of Joey, a popular DJ and male prostitute; Rainer, a world-weary German film director being honored with a retrospective; and the Philippine's astonishingly candid First Lady, addressed only as Madame, among others. Hagedorn's unflinching view of Manila, encompassing child prostitution, the torture chambers and the slums, as well as the palatial quarters of the First Family, is leavened by ironic, often humorous observations. When the popular opposition leader is slain, each of the characters is directly affected; for some it is a moral awakening, for others the beginning of the end of a stranglehold on power.
Copyright 1990 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

This jazzy, sardonic novel depicts the nightmare world that was the Philippines of the Marcoses. Its terrain is familiar to us from the writings of Gabriel Garcia Marquez and Manuel Puig: a lush, fantastical, overheated landscape, where the fractured lives of the poor are rendered palatable solely by dreams. Rich and poor, everyone sells something here; everyone has a price. The common dream of a myriad group of characters--bored teenagers, timid shop girls, male prostitutes on the make--is that hollowest of all modern apotheoses, "stardom." A visiting filmmaker, a German degenerate, buys the services of a pretty boy, who soliloquizes: "I'll have it all worked out, soon. I know I will. I have to. I'll hit the jackpot with one of these guys. Leave town. Get lucky . . . . Soon." This is a novel about the death of the good life of the soul: of all virtue, meaning, and hope. Exceptionally well written and emotionally wrenching. Recommended.
- David Keymer, SUNY Inst. of Technology, Utica
Copyright 1990 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 96 pages
  • Publisher: Theatre Communications Group (December 1, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1559362154
  • ISBN-13: 978-1559362153
  • Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 0.3 x 8.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 2.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #839,146 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Unknown Binding
Dogeaters is a dizzying whirlwind slice of Filipino life. Jessica Hagedorn's post-modern, at times surreal, story is interesting not so much for the characters but the form and structure of her storytelling. Using a mix of points of view, interlacing traditional prose with play dialogue and songs (the kundiman), the fast paced narrative is at times breathlessly exciting- at its worst, it is overwhelming. The book's emphasis on style comes at the cost of an engaging storyline or fully realized characters- none of whom you completely understand or emphatize with. Ms. Hagedorn, with some ingenuity, does manage to illustrate a society caught between two worlds- the colonial, the post-colonial, the East, the West- and people who, despite being connected by sanguine relations (mothers, fathers, the family unit, ancestry, etc.) are more connected by media and technology- a people in love with the glamour of the movies- even though though their own lives, mired in poverty, violence, empty wealth, corruption- is the very stuff that movies are made of. The richest man in the country, the President and First Lady, a hustler/junkie connect via the movies. Daring and gutsy. (I especially liked the allusions to "dog-eating." Everyone is suspicous of everyone- the nightclub owner looks down on his busyboy because he thinks he eats dogs, the department store clerk thinks that the barbecue she buys from the roadside vendor is not cowmeat but dogmeat. Funny and true- I think that Ms.Hagedorn captures the suspicion and hypocrisy and self doubt and defeatism (she still keeps eating there...)that pervades Filipino culture, or any culture, under foreign influence and/or dictatorial rule.
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Format: Paperback
Let me preface this by saying that I am Filipino, but have very little knowledge of what life in the Philippines is like, so in many respects this novel breaks new ground for me (although I did recognize much of the Tagalog that Hagedorn uses). That being said, I have to say that this book moves beyond being easily categorized as a transculturation text or something that simply received press because of its introduction of Filipino culture to the American populace (much in the same way that Alvarez and Garcia wrote books that could not be dismissed as simply being Latino-American fiction produced for an ethnic-hungry reading population). The style reminds me of the book "Twelve" in its fast paced movements and I especially liked the way the storylines of all of the characters had a way of intersecting with one another. I loved reading about Joey's character and also liked the way Hagedorn discusses a major problem with many Asian cultures - the problems of navigating the way with which Western culture bleeds into almost every facet of society. Hagedorn writes vivid descriptions of characters struggling with and enjoying the way Western entertainment has become the norm.

Problems with the novel? I guess one major concern is the over-emphasis on explaining what makes a Filipino a Filipino and the constant explanation of every little tidbit of Filipino culture. The way she uses language is well-done and people can understand the Tagalog without any translations, so I wish she had chosen to take a step back and not necessarily explain every cultural tidbit she thought a non-Filipino would not know. If that's what someone wanted they would have purchased a sociology textbook.

In the end, this is an entertaining read that does a good job of playing with narrative forms.
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Format: Paperback
Unfortunately Jessica Hagedorn's book illustrates one of the primary problems in developing a novel that has the potential to be mainstream but falls short because of the need for readers to understand a generally foreign culture outside of the 7000+ islands of which the Philippines is made up of. As a Filipino who was born in the Philippines grew up in America, if it wasn't for my parents' being hell bent on teaching me the history and culture of our country, I probably would've hated this book.

This is not a book I would recommend to those unfamiliar with the history during and right after American occupation of the islands and for those who don't at least have a small grasp on the colloquialisms which perpetrate the Filipino language. Also, her style of writing in which chapters go from one character's perspective to another can be confusing and took a few chapters for me to become accustomed to and may be a turnoff for some readers. It is, however, one of the few novels by Filipino-Americans written about Filipinos that can be readily obtained in the US and I would recommend it to younger generations who are interested in learning more about a culture that continues to struggle with its identity due to the colonialism and imperialism that lasted centuries.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
A little disjointed and hard to follow. Sometimes ,without the name being given you read into the chapter without being sure who it was about.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is the 1st novel I've ever read by author Jessica Hagedorn and what a great novel it is! "Dogeaters" is an extremely well written work of art. It is a fast paced novel and has a diverse cast of characters, which keeps the novel interesting.

"Dogeaters" is set in Manila and touches upon a wide range of topics within its covers... Such topics as religion, politics, drug addiction, prostitution, and homosexuality, rich vs. poor, etc. The only difficulty I had with this novel was trying to keep track of who all the different characters were.

So, if you're looking for a great read, then check out this novel.
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