Are you a fan of
Miguel Syjuco or Ilustrado?
Then youv'e come to the right place!
"Ilustrado now suddenly reminds... 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
"In this dazzling debut novel, Syjuco portrays the history, politics, and arts of his native Philippines in the semiautobiographical story of two Filipino authors—both members of the ilustrado, or intelligentsia—living in New York. Once the literary lion of his home country, Crispin Salvador is teaching and working on his breakthrough exposé novel, The Bridges Ablaze, when his body washes up in the Hudson River. Wanting to know whether his mentor committed suicide or was murdered, his student and friend (who, like the author, is named Syjuco) sets out on a quest that takes him back to the Philippines for both the truth and the missing manuscript. In this literary collage—of Salvador’s work (fiction, memoir, and poetry), interviews, the biography of him in progress by his acolyte Syjuco, e-mails, blogs, old school jokes, and a bizarre hostage situation that captures the Filipino imagination and is threaded through the novel—the lives of the two writers become intertwined. As an unpublished manuscript, Ilustrado won both the Palanca Grand Prize, the Philippines’ highest literary award, and the Man Asian Literary Award in 2008. 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!)
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.
—Joshua Finnell, Denison Univ. Lib., Granville, OH, The Library Journal (starred review!)
An ambitious debut novel, winner of the Man Asian Literary Prize, introduces an author of limitless promise. First novels rarely show such reach and depth.
—Kirkus (starred review!)
Miguel Syjuco's dizzyingly energetic, inventive Illustrado views his native Phillipines with a merciless, yet loving eye, its many voices a chorus illuminating the many facets of this chaotic, complicated country. An ambitious and admirable debut.
—Janice Y.K. Lee, Author of The Piano Teacher
Winner of the 2008 Man Asian Prize before it was even published, this dizzying and ambitious novel marks an auspicious start to Syjuco's career. The apparent suicide of famous, down-on-his-luck Filipino author Crispin Salvador sends narrator Miguel Syjuco home to the Philippines to come to terms with the death of his literary mentor, research a biography he plans to write about him, and find the author's lost manuscript. With flair and grace, Syjuco makes this premise bear much weight: the multigenerational saga of Salvador's life, a history of the postwar Philippines, questions of literary ambitions and achievement, and the narrator's own coming-of-age story. The expansive scope is tightly structured as a series of fragments: excerpts of Salvador's works, found documents, Miguel's narration of his return to the Philippines, blogs about contemporary terrorist incidents in Manila, and even a series of jokes that tell the story of a Filipino immigrant to America. Though murky at times, this imaginative first novel shows considerable ingenuity in binding its divergent threads into a satisfying, meaningful story.
—Publisher's Weekly (starred review!!)
"From the ruckus of rumors, blogs, ambitions, overweaning 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
Ilustrado is a fantastic literary mystery that draws from the politics and poetics of Manila. It's written in a smart pastiche of fictional newspaper clippings, interviews and novel excerpts, and in the captivating voice of Miguel, a young writer who, far from Manila in his new Manhattan home, wants to piece together this puzzle of his hero's death. 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
“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