Rated of 5
A different edge
Written by Miguel Syjuco, Ilustrado is an eye-addicting novel that won the 2008 Man Asian Literary Prize and the Philippines’ highest literary honor, the Palanca Award.
Narrated in an almost schizophrenic point of view, switching between voices, outlooks and opinions, it’s infused with wit, poetry, and well-versed defiance. The story unfolds with the floating body of Crispin Salvador in the Hudson, sarcastically in a “Christ-like” position, with outstretched arms. Miguel, his student and an equal writer, is troubled by the overwhelming anonymity behind the death of Crispin and intends to pursue and put together the puzzle pieces in his mysterious death. As events unfold he gathers real-life material for a biography of his mentor, requiring him to delve into his past and history in order to connect to the present. Ilustrado is a political, historical, and insightful novel tracing the Philippine history back to 150 years, capturing you in a mind thriller about two fictional gifted writers reflecting Philippine literature and culture, injected with irony.
“Manila is the cradle, the memory, the graveyard; the Mecca, the Cathedral, the bordello; the shopping mall, urinal, discotheque. I’m hardly speaking in metaphor.” –Miguel Syjuco from his Novel Ilustrado