Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Miguel Syjuco - Ilustrado (Mouria, 2011) ***½

'Ilustrado' by Philippine author Miguel Syjuco is both ambitious and entertaining. When the body of Crispin Salvador is found in the Hudson River in New York, everybody believes the famous author committed suicide, yet his literary student, Miguel Syjuco thinks otherwise, and starts investigating, going back in history, going back in the deceased author's oeuvre to find out what could have happened.

'Ilustrado' is a puzzle. Together with the author, we try to reconstruct what happened based on diary notes, biographies, novels and real life events. Syjuco uses multiple perspectives and styles to depict a world of corruption, political violence, personal vendetta's, accumulation of personal wealth and other vice. His approach doesn't always work, but at the same time it gives a good picture of Manila (we hope), or at least it puts Philippine literature on the map.

Worth reading, if only to hear a different voice than the ones that come of US Creative Writing Classes.

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