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Ilustrado: A Novel Hardcover – Bargain Price, April 27, 2010
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From Publishers Weekly
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Praise for Ilustrado
“Winner of the 2008 Man Asian Literary Prize while still in manuscript form, Ilustrado is a hip and secure first novel about the urgency of art and regret. Confident and quirky, with passages that recall early Phillip Roth and a structure not unlike the best M. Night Shyamalan films, the book actively seeks to provoke its audience with bathroom humor and sexist stabs at superficial melodrama. Such scenes are bookended by passages of profundity that somehow manage to always say something about life as well as literature.” —Roberto Ontiveros, The Dallas Morning News
“Ambitious . . . In a daring literary performance, Syjuco weaves the invented with the factual . . . Ilustrado is being presented as a tracing of 150 years of Philippine history, but it’s considerably more than that . . . Spiced with surprises and leavened with uproariously funny moments, it is punctuated with serious philosophical musings.” —Raymond Bonner, The New York Times Book Review
“A dazzling and virtuosic adventure in reading . . . The narrative is organised with immense confidence and skill . . . The author’s post-modernist bag of tricks also contains a whip-crack narrative skill that’s as reminiscent of Dickens as it is of Roberto Bolaño . . . There’s a capaciousness that makes the book richly attractive to wander into . . . [This] novel . . . fizzes with the effervescence a large book can have when its author is in total control of the material. This isn’t a story; it’s the unfolding of an entire world, a mirror-land that seems familiar but is always ineffably strange . . . Syjuco is a writer already touched by greatness . . . This is a remarkably impressive and utterly persuasive novel. Its author . . . may one day succeed with the Nobel committee.”—Joseph O’Connor, The Guardian
“An exuberant, complex, and fascinating ride through 150 years of Philippine history . . . Syjuco’s writing is playful, smart, and confident . . . An inventive and exciting debut.” —Grace Talusan, Rumpus
“An extraordinary debut, at once flashy and substantial, brightly charming and quietly resistant to its own wattage . . . Syjuco’s gifts for pastiche, his protean narrative energy, are in particular evidence in these pitch-perfect fictions of the fictions of his fictional author . . . An exuberant, funny novel that neither takes its grand ambitions too seriously, nor pretends to be measuring itself by any less a scale of intent. How Syjuco . . . has done this is foremost a testament to his prodigious gifts . . . With his dazzling first foray, Syjuco suggest how his new Asia, his new identity, must ‘look’ on the page and between the covers. That look is unexpected and fresh, quite unlike anything that has been seen before.” —Charles Foran, The Globe and Mail
“Wildly entertaining . . . Engaging . . . Absolutely assured in its tone, literary sophistication and satirical humor . . . Syjuco is only on his mid-30s, and he already possesses the wand of the enchanter.” —Michael Dirda, The Washington Post
“Ilustrado will provoke audible oohs and ahhs from readers . . . The writing is gorgeous. Plus, there's an O. Henry twist in the epilogue. This is a great book. Read it.” —Luis Clemens, Senior Editor, Tell Me More
“Syjuco’s exceptional novel exceeds its heightened expectations, serving notice that a brilliant new talent has arrived, somehow fully formed.” —Jared Bland, The Walrus
“Dazzling . . . It is a virtuoso display of imagination and wisdom, particularly remarkable from a 31-year-old author; a literary landmark for the Philippines and beyond.” —Michele Leber, Booklist (starred review)
“This imaginative first novel shows considerable ingenuity in binding its divergent threads into a satisfying, meaningful story.” —Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“Through his vivid use of language, Syjuco has crafted a beautiful work of historical fiction that's part mystery and part sociopolitical commentary. Readers who enjoyed Junot Díaz's The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao will enjoy this literary gem.” —Library Journal (starred review)
“An ambitious debut novel, winner of the Man Asian Literary Prize, introduces an author of limitless promise . . . It dazzles as brightly as Jonathan Safran Foer’s Everything Is Illuminated . . . First novels rarely show such reach and depth.” —Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
“Miguel Syjuco’s dizzyingly energetic and inventive novel views his native Philippines with a merciless yet loving eye, its many voices a chorus illuminating the various facets of this chaotic, complicated country. An ambitious and admirable debut.” —Janice Y. K. Lee, author of The Piano Teacher
“Vulnerable and mischievous, sophisticated and naïve, Ilustrado explores the paradoxes that come with the search for identity and throws readers into the fragile space between self-pursuit and self-destruction. A novel about country and self, youth and experience, it is elegiac, thoughtful, and original.” —Colin McAdam, author of Fall and Some Great Thing
“From the ruckus of rumors, blogs, ambitions, overweening grandparents, indifferent history, and personal crimes, Miguel Syjuco has innovatively reimagined that most wonderfully old-fashioned consolation: literature. Ilustrado is a great novel.” —Rivka Galchen, author of Atmospheric Disturbances
“Brilliantly conceived, and stylishly executed, [Ilustrado] covers a large and tumultuous historical period with seemingly effortless skill. It is also ceaselessly entertaining, frequently raunchy, and effervescent with humour.” —2008 Man Asian Literary Prize Panel of Judges
Top Customer Reviews
The story begins with the death of a Filipino author (Crispin), and our narrator and pupil of the dead author (Miguel) decides to write his biography. The story is definitely more about Miguel and his journey, and about the Philippines, than about Crispin.
The tale is told in a number of different ways. There's the biography of Crispen, snippets from Crispin's writings and interviews, the narrator's story, narrative about the narrator, but not told by the narrator, and some random blogs and other errata.
For me, the book gets extra points for the way in which it told the story. In many ways, it reminded me of The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, where a modern day tale is told, but facts of the history and politics of a country are woven in. In Oscar Wao, the historical bits were told in dull, excruciating detail, in microscopic print, via footnotes. This book definitely approached the history and politics in a more interesting fashion. Even still, at times it got a bit wearying.
For the most part, the writing is stellar. Though I certainly felt that the author suffered a bit from 'new-author-itis' where they want to convey every idea they've ever had in their first novel. We start the book with Crispin's bibliography and that goes on for several uninteresting pages, and there's another point in the book where Miguel is flipping through the television channels and describing what's on every channel. 3 1/2 pages worth.Read more ›
An attraction for me in trying out this unfamiliar author was that the book was the winner of the Man Asia prize. I assumed that this had a stature comparable with the Booker Prize and that it signaled the recognition of literary achievement. Without in any way wanting to be dismissive of this worthy initiative, it needs to be placed in context. It is a small competition aimed at bringing attention to new Asian writers, ones with promise that may become sustained achievement. It is sponsored by the Man Group plc, a Hong Kong investment management company. It has a limited number of submissions and is very much for the unpublished to get attention in "literary circles" (its specific target). So this is a book by a new young author. That's it. It is very much a nifty first novel and that is reason enough to try it out. There are some good points to raise. The author is smooth with words but words are not enough to compensate for lack of cohesion, thematic structure and characterization. It's OK-ish but not at all a major work.
That's the premise in outline anyway. What else there is of this book is somewhat random and smothered in words and irrelevancies. Short biographical incidents are related of the fictional author's life, illustrated but not illuminated, by seemingly random paragraphs from his fictional works, imaginary interviews, stories related to his brilliance, his notoriety and his exile. Between this and the author's singularly uninteresting reminiscences on his own bourgeois US émigré background, his journey back to the Philippines, dropping in the odd blog posting and running joke along the way, there is of course an attempt to consider in a very post-modern way modern notions of the role of the author, of fiction, of nationality, one's background and the influences of place of birth and family that make a writer singular and potentially a revolutionary.
All of this is all so very literate and clever, and all of it so much deeply tedious rambling.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Syjuco writes what seems to be a semi-autobiographical book about the discovery of his own and his country's soul. The book is profound, funny, and supremely honest. Read morePublished 4 months ago by Dennis Shasha
A bit onerous, the jumps from
one narrative to another end up being exhaustive. Story telling seems contrived or tedious at time. Read more
the best asian novel I've read so far. not a fan of asian literature but this one really caught my eye (BECAUSE I JUDGE A BOOK BY ITS COVER). the story is great. Read morePublished 11 months ago by michael kirby
Dreadful because it is impossible to follow. My book club selected this book based on the fact that it won the Man-Asia Award. Read morePublished 17 months ago by Norma Hirshfield
The author is very linguistic and used so many words in this book. That's okay but some are becoming redundant already. Read morePublished 19 months ago by Otakore Literantadodist
I have no doubt why it got Man Asia prize. The only point where it falls little short of expectations is the way in which story ends. But form is awesome, especially those jokes!!Published 21 months ago by Kiran
Just not my kind of book. Did not find it funny or interesting or sad. Just not my type-giving it away.Published on February 23, 2014 by Joan L. Anderson
Going nowhere fast this helped more than pass the time by transporting the mind to the places and characters in Illusrado. Changed my flight to there after the first 100 pages.Published on September 7, 2013 by Bain