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Ilustrado by Miguel Syjuco

Ilustrado (2010)

by Miguel Syjuco, Miguel Syjuco

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Showing 1-5 of 26 (next | show all)
I really struggled with this one. Probably because the story structure doesn’t lend itself to an audio read (the format I chose to try and get my trade paperback copy read and off my TBR pile). The narrative mechanisms used include everything from excerpted sections of fictionalized published works, transcribes of interviews, to reproducing emails and blog postings to communicate the story. Quite the jumbled mess that made listening to the story a bit of a challenge, kind of like listening to someone reading aloud a journal article and making a point of reading aloud each footnote in turn, disrupting the flow. This probably would have worked okay as a physical read, especially with the visual cues of section breaks and changes in font style to indicate the shifts in narration, but that wasn’t enough for Syjuco. He had to go and further complicate matters by free flowing the story backwards and forwards through time and place. One moment, we are in modern day New York, the next minute in the Philippines during the Japanese Occupation, and then suddenly in Canada in the 1960’s/1970’s. The premise itself is the reason I picked up a copy of this book and I really like Syjuco’s use of “Ilustrados” – the well-to-do Filipino intelligentsia, who have received European and Westernized educations – to be his "voice" but I should point out that this really isn’t much of a mystery as it has been billed to be. It is really more of a pseudo-autobiographical and sensationalized literary mouthpiece for what one reviewer has called “oblique manifestos” in the same highbrow, expansive style utilized by writers such as Roberto Bolano, with a similar noir undertone. This book does a wonderful job outlining 150 years of Philippine history, and communicating the country’s search for its identity, but I came away from this one with the same feeling I had after having read Bolano’s 2666: an overarching feeling that the story is an information dump of deeper messages layered one over top of the other, piled so high that I fail to work my way through to the core meaning.

Overall, one of the most ambitious debut novels I have ever read. I just wish I had the patience to try and understand the deeper meaning I am sure it contains. ( )
  lkernagh | Sep 25, 2016 |
I tried. I really tried to like this. I am supposed to like this. The critics rave, this book is brilliant they say. Well, his brilliance must be blinding coz I can't see it. There are good bits of writing, some nice phrasing etc, but it doesn't hang together. He is so busy listening to his own voice(s) that the stories stutter, bereft of reason.
( )
  TheBookJunky | Apr 22, 2016 |
  johnrid11 | Feb 14, 2016 |
It was a very modern piece about the political mess called the Philippines and the fictional life of the author and his mentor. It has a really nice twist at the end that I did not expect and Syjuco did a great job. He was very strategic to the point that you just stop predicting what will happen next. However, when reading "Ilustrado" make sure you have a dictionary and an alarm clock ready. It was full of hifalutin words and is really dragging. The story really started slow for me and if you're expecting for an action-packed novel you'll be disappointed. If you're also expecting a Sherlock Holmes-y story, you'll also be disappointed. It's more of biographical kind of story, also full of political satire that is both funny and real at the same time. A must-read for Pinoys. ( )
  krizia_lazaro | Mar 6, 2014 |
I tried reading this book but it was too confusing. The story kept switching around from one thing to another, and although a lot of books have this sort of format, this book didn't have a smooth transition. The story switched around too many topics, and I would have to read a section and then try to guess what it was talking about. I would have to see if what I was reading was about: Miguel's present, or his past, or his biography on Crispin, or one of Crispin's interview, or another of Crispin's interview, or about a character/story that Crispin wrote, etc. It was a hassle having to start reading a section and then trying to understand who/what I was reading about and then being able to finish reading the section. This made the book take so long to read.

I didn't like how the character of Miguel held the character of Crispin in such a high standard. I got tired of having to read so much about Crispin because I felt inundated by so much information about him. I couldn't bear anymore at one point to read about the character of Crispin...I just didn't care anymore what had happened to him. Also, the story dragged on and never seemed to be going anywhere.

I did like how the story talked about where Miguel was from. It was interesting to read about a different culture and way of living. That part of the story did catch my interest.
  bookwormconfidential | Dec 27, 2013 |
Showing 1-5 of 26 (next | show all)
För visst är ”Ilustrado” en roman som handlar om litteraturen. Om dess moral, ansvar, möjligheter och risker. Men litteratur är ju bara är ett annat ord för inlevelse, en vilja att förstå andra människor, att närma sig dem genom att hitta på dem.
... Och någonstans där kommer det att bli uppenbart för dig att ”Ilustrado” inte bara är rolig och smart. Smärtpunkten kommer att dyka upp, den kommer att vända upp och ned på allt, du kommer att köpa det.

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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Miguel Syjucoprimary authorall editionscalculated
Syjuco, Miguelmain authorall editionsconfirmed
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0374174784, Hardcover)

Garnering international prizes and acclaim before its publication, Ilustrado has been called “brilliantly conceived and stylishly executed . . .It is also ceaselessly entertaining, frequently raunchy, and effervescent with humor” (2008 Man Asian Literary Prize panel of judges).

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. Gone, too, is the only manuscript of his final book, a work meant to rescue him from obscurity by exposing the crimes of the Filipino ruling families. Miguel, his student and only remaining friend, sets out for Manila to investigate.

To understand the death, Miguel scours the life, piecing together Salvador’s story through his poetry, interviews, novels, polemics, and memoirs. The result is a rich and dramatic family saga of four generations, tracing 150 years of Philippine history forged under the Spanish, the Americans, and the Filipinos themselves. Finally, we are surprised to learn that this story belongs to young Miguel as much as to his lost mentor, and we are treated to an unhindered view of a society caught between reckless decay and hopeful progress.

Exuberant and wise, wildly funny and deeply moving, Ilustrado explores the hidden truths that haunt every family. It is a daring and inventive debut by a new writer of astonishing talent.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:13:43 -0400)

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When an esteemed author is murdered, protégé Miguel seeks both answers and the whereabouts of a missing manuscript written to expose corruption among the Philippines' wealthy ruling families, an effort for which Miguel examines his mentor's life and writings.… (more)

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