Histories and personalities collide in this literary tour-de-force about the Philippines' present and America's past by the PEN Open Book Award–winning author of Gun Dealer's Daughter.
Two women, a Filipino translator and an American filmmaker, go on a road trip in Duterte’s Philippines, collaborating and ...
Histories and personalities collide in this literary tour-de-force about the Philippines’ present and America’s past by the PEN Open Book Award–winning author of Gun Dealer’s Daughter.
Two women, a Filipino translator and an American filmmaker, go on a road trip in Duterte’s Philippines, collaborating and clashing in the writing of a film script about a massacre during the Philippine-American War. Chiara is working on a film about an incident in Balangiga, Samar, in 1901, when Filipino revolutionaries attacked an American garrison, and in retaliation American soldiers created “a howling wilderness” of the surrounding countryside. Magsalin reads Chiara’s film script and writes her own version. Insurrecto contains within its dramatic action two rival scripts from the filmmaker and the translator—one about a white photographer, the other about a Filipino schoolteacher.
Within the spiraling voices and narrative layers of Insurrecto are stories of women—artists, lovers, revolutionaries, daughters—finding their way to their own truths and histories. Using interlocking voices and a kaleidoscopic structure, the novel is startlingly innovative, meditative, and playful. Insurrecto masterfully questions and twists narrative in the manner of Italo Calvino’s If on a Winter’s Night a Traveler, Julio Cortázar’s Hopscotch, and Nabokov’s Pale Fire. Apostol pushes up against the limits of fiction in order to recover the atrocity in Balangiga, and in so doing, she shows us the dark heart of an untold and forgotten war that would shape the next century of Philippine and American history.
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“Gina Apostol—a smart writer, a sharp critic, a keen intellectual—takes on the vexed relationship between the Philippines and the United States, pivoting on that relationship’s bloody origins. Insurrecto is meta-fictional, meta-cinematic, even meta-meta, plunging us into the vortex of memory, history, and war where we can feel what it means to be forgotten, and what it takes to be remembered.”
—Viet Thanh Nguyen, Pulitzer Prize–winning author The Sympathizer
““[Apostol] weaves the complex tangle of Philppine history, literature, and languages (along with contemporary academic scholarship) into a brilliant tour de force of a novel.”
—John Barth, author of Lost in the Funhouse
“A searing and psychedelic road trip through the long, sordid history of Philippine-American relations, Insurrecto is at once a murder mystery, a war movie, and a moving exploration of all the ways grief lives on, both in a people and in a person. A masterful puzzle, in which, as Apostol writes, ‘one story told may unbury another.’”
—Elaine Castillo, author of America Is Not the Heart
“In Insurrecto, a polymath's lyricism is woven with sharp cultural study and post-colonial tristesse. A deft and labyrinthine depiction of our helpless condition of ever-revolving insurrection, Gina Apostol has created an elegant mise en abyme wherein the colonizer and the colonized reflect themselves over and over and yet over again.”
—Eugene Lim, author of Dear Cyborgs
“A book by Gina Apostol is always an event, and this latest one is no exception. Lush and vigorous, Insurrecto mines the Philippines' troubled past with a scholar's careful attention to detail, and examines the enduring riddles of voice and identity, revolution and nation. The ghosts of history stalk the pages of this dizzying, stunning novel, their footsteps echoing in our fraught and uncertain times.”
–F.H. Batacan, author of Smaller and Smaller Circles
“Dazzling, interlocking narratives on history, truth, and storytelling.”
“Apostol fearlessly probes the long shadow of forgotten American imperialism in the Philippines in her ingenious novel of competing filmmakers....layers of narrative, pop culture references, and blurring of history and fiction make for a profound and unforgettable journey into the past and present of the Philippines.”