On Our Shelves Now
Revealing glimpses of the Philippine Revolution and the Filipino writer Jose Rizal emerge despite the worst efforts of feuding academics in Apostol’s hilariously erudite novel, which won the Philippine National Book Award.
Gina Apostol’s riotous second novel takes the form of a memoir by one Raymundo Mata, a half-blind bookworm and revolutionary, tracing his childhood, his education in Manila, his love affairs, and his discovery of writer and fellow revolutionary, Jose Rizal. Mata’s 19th-century story is complicated by present-day foreword(s), afterword(s), and footnotes from three fiercely quarrelsome and comic voices: a nationalist editor, a neo-Freudian psychoanalyst critic, and a translator, Mimi C. Magsalin.
In telling the contested and fragmentary story of Mata, Apostol finds new ways to depict the violence of the Spanish colonial era, and to reimagine the nation’s great writer, Jose Rizal, who was executed by the Spanish for his revolutionary activities, and is considered by many to be the father of Philippine independence. The Revolution According to Raymundo Mata offers an intoxicating blend of fact and fiction, uncovering lost histories while building dazzling, anarchic modes of narrative.
About the Author
Gina Apostol is the PEN Open Book Award–winning author of Gun Dealers' Daughter, as well as a two-time winner of the National Book Award in the Philippines for her novels Bibliolepsy and The Revolution According to Raymundo Mata. Her short stories have appeared in various anthologies and journals including The Gettysburg Review and the Penguin anthology of Asian American fiction, Charlie Chan Is Dead, Volume 2.
Praise for The Revolution According to Raymundo Mata
Winner of 2010 Philippine National Book Award
Winner of 2010 Gintong Aklat (Golden Book) Award
“Gina Apostol’s The Revolution According to Raymundo Mata weaves the complex tangle of Philippine history, literature, and languages (along with contemporary academic scholarship) into a brilliant tour de force of a novel. Brava!”
“Gina Apostol tells our revolutionary history—or fragments of our history—using a pastiche of writing from the academe, a diary, stories within stories, jokes, puns, allusions, a virtual firecracker of words. Her novel is fearlessly intellectual, anchored firmly on the theories of Jacques Lacan. But it is also funny and witty as it picks—lice, nits, and all—on the hoaxes in our history. It affirms, if it still needs to be affirmed, the power of fiction to shape and reshape the gaps in the narratives of our history as a nation. The main character here is History, and its protagonist, Imagination. For this audacious sword-play of a novel, the National Book Award is given to Gina Apostol’s The Revolution According to Raymundo Mata.”
—Judges' Citation, Philippine National Book Award
“Highly entertaining . . . The narrative is studded with hilarious argumentative footnotes between an editor, a translator, and a scholar of Mata’s work, producing dueling Nabokovian narratives . . . Apostol’s unique perspective on facts versus fiction would make for a perfect Charlie Kaufman movie.”
—Publishers Weekly, Starred Review
“Edward Said wrote that the role of the intellectual is to present alternative narratives on history than those provided by the ‘combatants’ who claim entitlement to official memory and national identity—who propagate ‘heroic anthems sung in order to sweep all before them.’ In this fearlessly intellectual novel, Gina Apostol takes on the keepers of official memory and creates a new, atonal anthem that defies single ownership and, in fact, can only be performed by the many—by multiple voices in multiple readings. We may never look at ourselves and our history the same way again.”
—Eric Gamalinda, author of My Sad Republic