3.41 (1,977 ratings by Goodreads)
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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 meant to rescue him from obscurity by exposing the corrupt roots of power behind the Filipino ruling families. His student, Miguel, investigates, journeying home from a city still in shock from terrorist attacks to a country caught between reckless decay and desperate progress. To understand his mentor's death, Miguel scours the life, charting Salvador's trajectory via his poetry, stories, interviews, novels, and memoirs. The literary fragments become patterns become stories become epic: a generations-long saga of revolution, familial duty, political intrigue, and a people's enduring struggle against their own worst tendencies. This is a clever, bravura, and exuberant debut novel from a new literary sensation. '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' Judges of the Man Asian Literary Prize 'Miguel Syjuco's dizzyingly energetic and inventive novel views his native Philippines with a merciless yet loving eye, its chorus of voices illuminating the many 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 naive, 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 re-imagined that most wonderfully old-fashioned consolation: literature. Ilustrado is a great novel' Rivka Galchen, author of Atmospheric Disturbances 'A fantastic literary mystery that draws from the politics and poetics of Manila ...Ilustrado is global in all aspects of the story, and frank and unpretentious in every right-on detail. With originality and insight, Syjuco writes of romance and ambition between grad students and lit stars who connive to form a literary island of their own - one that threatens to distract and estrange Miguel from a deeper responsibility to his literary father and their shared past.' Lee Henderson, Author of The Man Game 'Ilustrado now suddenly reminds some of ...the best of Roberto Bolano; and many readers will soon be able to marvel, as I did, at the richness and depth of human experience it reveals' Pankaj Mishra, Guardian 'Through virtuoso use of language and a dazzling array of fictional techniques, it achieves all of its lofty objectives ...It deserves all the accolades it has won. It is among the finest novels written by a Filipino. Perhaps, even, by any writer' Antonio A. Hidalgo, chairman of judges of the 2008 Palanca Award for the Novelshow more

Product details

  • Hardback | 320 pages
  • 135 x 216 x 37mm | 541g
  • Pan MacMillan
  • London, United Kingdom
  • English
  • 0330510002
  • 9780330510004
  • 350,143

Review quote

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 Bolano . . . 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 . . . Anashow more

About Miguel Syjuco

MIGUEL SYJUCO was born and raised in Manila. A freelance writer, he has written for international publications, including the New York Times, the International Herald Tribune, the Globe & Mail, and the CBC. He currently lives in Montreal. Ilustrado will be translated into more than 15 more

Rating details

1,977 ratings
3.41 out of 5 stars
5 21% (413)
4 28% (545)
3 31% (606)
2 14% (283)
1 7% (130)
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