The New York Times (NYT) has named Ilustrado by Miguel Syjuco, a Filipino writer based in Canada, one of the "100 Notable Books of 2010." The book, which won the 2008 Man Asian Literary Prize and Palanca Awards Grand Prize for Best Novel in English, was described in the NYT as "a murder mystery punctuated with serious philosophical musings."
In an NYT book review published earlier this year, Raymond Bonner wrote, "Ilustrado is being presented as a tracing of 150 years of Philippine history, but it’s considerably more than that. Just as this country is searching for its identity, its author seems to be searching for his own. What does it mean to live in exile? What does it mean to be a writer?"
The Washington Post also called it "engaging (and) absolutely assured in its tone, literary sophistication and satirical humor." Reviewer Michael Dirda added, "Ilustrado is more a novel of wonderful parts than a completely successful whole. But Syjuco is only in his mid-30s, and he already possesses the wand of the enchanter, conjuring up striking scenes."
Miguel Syjuco on Ilustrado
Syjuco comes from a political family but he chose to focus on his writing, according to the NYT. He held entry-level jobs at The New Yorker, Esquire and The Paris Review. He has a master’s degree in creative writing from Columbia University in New York, and he is finishing a Ph.D. at the University of Adelaide in Australia.
He used to get "rejections left and right"--Ilustrado was actually unpublished when it won the Palanca and Man Asian Literary Prize. He told the NYT, "I wallpapered my wall with rejection slips, the way F. Scott Fitzgerald was said to have done."
Syjuco ranked second in SPOT.ph’s "Top 10 Most Eligible Filipino Bachelors" in June.
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