Reviews of Ilustrado

08 June 2010

Miguel Syjuco's award winning novel Ilustrado has been gathering praise across the world. Here are some tasters for what's in store when you come to read it.

'Beyond Ilustrado's furious skewering of Filipino elites is writing that bristles with surprising imagery. Life with a girlfriend, Miguel says, "was like walking naked around a cactus with your eyes closed." Miguel notices how an old woman's skin "sags on her as if she were a child wearing her father's sweater". An unruly and energizing novel, filled with symmetries and echoes that only become apparent in its closing pages, Ilustrado pushes readers into considering matters of authenticity, identity and belonging. Despite its various comic turns, it is ultimately a tragedy - a raw reminder of the fact that we can never, really, find our way back home.' Financial Times 

'This is a big, bold, cunning, impassioned, plangent and very funny book ... Although there are riotously satirical parts to this book, there is an emotional core as well: the comedy would lose its tang without the characters' blasted hopes and self-aware inadequacies. Like Steve Toltz's A Fraction Of The Whole, another epic comedy from the southern hemisphere, it deftly negotiates between the absurd and the all-too-real, the cosmopolitan and the local, the nature of failure and celebrity.' Scotland on Sunday & The Scotsman 

'Ilustrado is built like a carousel, revolving between first- and third-person commentary, news reports, interviews, extracts from Salvador's work and a Crispin Salvador biography the narrator is writing. Nonetheless it is all held tightly together, focused on the returning son's difficulties with his family and his efforts to acclimatize. Manila is conjured as a dystopian black hole. Civil unrest crackles at the edge of the narrator's vision as he explores the metropolis, reaching critical mass when a typhoon hits the city near the novel's climax.'Times Literary Supplement

'This is an author who is exhilarated by the creative process and provoked by rage at injustice, corruption and hypocrisy . . . The novel fizzes with his expertise in language . . . In Ilustrado, Syjuco uses the potency of words to illuminate the reality of the world that both inspires and disappoints him. His novel, written from the heart, will excited and delight you.'WBQ

'a real revelation' Independent

'A dazzling and virtuosic adventure in reading… The narrative is organised with immense confidence and skill…The book soon becomes a kind of meditation on the possibilities of fiction. Frequently terrifying words, some readers will feel; but 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 BolaƱo…It 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, but his truly uncommon gifts delight all the more when they are permitted to emerge subtly, without overture. This is a remarkably impressive and utterly persuasive novel. Its author, unlike Crispin, may one day succeed with the Nobel committee.'Joseph O'Connor, the Guardian

READ HOW MIGUEL'S NOTEBOOKS PLAYED A VITAL PART IN CRAFTING HIS NOVEL

 

You may also like