From the Memoirs of a Non-Enemy Combatant
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From the Memoirs of a Non-Enemy Combatant

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3.65 of 5 stars 3.65  ·  rating details  ·  415 ratings  ·  86 reviews
Fashionistas and g-men clash in a mastermindful debut

Boyet Hernandez is a small man with a big American dream when he arrives in New York in 2002, fresh out of fashion school in the Philippines. But on the brink of fame and fortune, there comes instead a knock on the door in the middle of the night: the flamboyant ex-Catholic is swept to America’s most notorious prison, ad...more
Hardcover, 302 pages
Published January 5th 2012 by Viking Adult
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Alex Gilvarry
Dec 15, 2011 Alex Gilvarry rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  (Review from the author)
That's right, I reviewed my own book.
Nibra Tee
When Boy Hernandez talks about fashion, it's physics to me. I don't know what in the world is a burka or if the sequin I have in mind is the same sequin he speaks of. In truth, I only know little- and that's an overstatement for I probably know nothing- of the composite parts of the fashion industry, or the fashion "way of life," to conceive most of the images fictional Boy has been shooting off my way. But then I know passion (no P/Filipino joke intended). And Boy has that. I generally enjoy ho...more
Christina (A Reader of Fictions)
This is a bit out of my normal range of reading. This is not just because I have been reading so much YA literature, but also because I generally try to avoid anything political. However, when I got an offer to review this book, I took it, since who doesn't love a free book. Besides, it's always (note: this is hyperbole) good to push your boundaries and leave your comfort zone. I am so glad I did.

From the first, I loved this book. Boy has such a clear strong voice and a wonderful sense of humor,...more
John Luiz
Alex Gilvarry has written an absolutely brilliant and entertaining novel. The premise is so outlandish – he combines a humorous satirical look at the fashion industry with eye-opening insights into the way “detainees” are treated at Guantanamo Prison. It doesn’t seem possible that these two storylines could be joined together in an interesting and compelling way, but Gilvarry does it. The book is written as the confession of Boy Hernandez, a Filipino immigrant with dreams of becoming a world fam...more
Paul
This is a damn good, entertaining book! The writing is clean and charismatic, with a hip flare similarly found in Junot Diaz novels. It is a rarity for me to digest a book in a few days, but the sensual experience and perceptiveness of Boy Hernandez, a young filipino immigrant just trying to make it in America as a fashion designer, is really engrossing. It is comprised of interesting tales of love and ambition that hit close to home for any hopeless romantic, and of a shadowy world of indefinit...more
IronBlossom
The strongest feeling that comes to mind for this book is "meh." I didn't hate it, I guess. I found it hard to read because I really didn't care about the protagonist, and grew to dislike him more and more, even while my sympathy for his circumstances increased. It wasn't badly written, exactly, it was a little confusing and once again a very "in the protagonist's head" type of book. In this case there was a lot of telling what was going on, but very little showing of the action.

On the other han...more
Jane
This books tells the story of Boy Hernandez, a budding fashion designer, whose career is indefinitely derailed when he is indefinitely detained on account of his involvement with a terrorist (the "terrorist" part being something of which he was previously unaware, due to his admittedly staggering naivete). It details his life leading up to detainment, and then detainment itself, with a short afterword.
I feel that the question this book is ultimately asking (what are the consequences of an imperf...more
Amodini
When I read the blurb for this book, I was surprised at the attempted conjoining of fashion and terrorism. And it was apparently funny. Well, funny it is. Gilvarry creates Boy with care, from the artfully placed acknowledgements section (by one B.R.H) to the slyly detailed footnotes, where we come to know of Boy’s penchant for mistakenly quoting authors and designers. The body of the book is in Boy’s voice, first person, written apparently while in prison, at the behest of his interrogator, and...more
Benito Jr.
POSSIBLE SPOILERS BELOW:

1. First of all: the sheer chutzpah, to write a comedy about Guantanamo. But comedy it is: Boyet (Boy) Hernandez, just-off-the-jet fashion designer from the Philippines and armed with a degree from the Fashion Institute of Makati; landing wide-eyed and hungry in New York to get the "dollar dollar bill y'all;" roaming through an underworld filled with exotic models, Williamsburg hipsters, and bad performance art; then, in a narrative shift worthy of a comedy of (t)errors,...more
Jaime Boler
From the Memoirs of a Non-Enemy Combatant by Alex Gilvarry (Viking; 302 pages; $26.95).

In Alex Gilvarry's first novel From the Memoirs of a Non-Enemy Combatant, his main character, Boyet Hernandez, is accused of terrorism and thrown into Guantánamo Bay. The kicker is that Boy is a fashion designer from the Philippines who loves America and would never even hurt a fly. Mr. Gilvarry uses irony and absurdity in his timely debut, while at the same time he shows the injustice of detaining and impris...more
Carol  MacInnis
I won this book from a contest on Goodreads.

Boyet Hernandez is from Pakistan and decides to go to America to live his dream of becoming a famous woman's fashion designer. Once he begins to be recognized for his work, he needs to find an investor to further his lines. When he moves to a new flat in New York, he meets a neighbour, Ahmed Lakhani who is not at all as he seems/says he is. But he is willing to back Boy on his quest to become of fashion designer and Boy couldn't be happier, although wi...more
Sandie
Prepare to be charmed. From the moment, Boyet Hernandez hits New York City from his native Philippines in 2002, his exuberance and talent starts to propel him to the top of the fashion world. He comes with nothing but determination to make it in the only world he cares about. Several years later, he has his own line (B)oy, magazine spreads and an American girlfriend. He has it all, or so it seems, until the knock comes in the middle of the night and he is hustled off to a military prison. His cr...more
Peggy
Alex Gilvarry writes a very good tongue-in-cheek modern social commentary. The premise itself is a little nutty, as aspiring fashion designer Boyet (call him Boy) Hernandez bumbles his way into trouble with homeland security and earns a one-way ticket to Gitmo.

This debut novel is amusing and engaging. I like Gilvarry's writing style, although his pacing isn't the fastest, his characters are real, rounded and believable. It is their quirks and foibles that make up the story line as everything tha...more
Danny
Picked this for a book club because it was supposed to be a funny book and we've been having some downer books. It was indeed funny in places, but not really laugh out loud funny. For me, anyway. Some reviewers claim to have laughed out loud. This may be your experience as well!

The plot as a whole, however, is funny in a post 9/11 satire kind of way. A fashion designer gets mixed up with a terrorist and then is rounded up and plunked down in Guantanamo Bay where he writes out his life story and...more
Jeannelle
"Boyet Hernandez is a small man with a big American dream when he arrives in New York in 2002, fresh out of design school in Manila. But on the brink of fame and fortune, there comes instead a knock on the door in the middle of the night: the flamboyant ex-Catholic is swept to Gitmo, administered a Koran, and locked away indefinitely to discover his link to a terrorist plot. Now from his six-by-eight-foot cell, Boy prepares for the trial of his life with this intimate confession, even as his bel...more
Christina
Looking for a satirical, quirky, quick read that pokes critical fun at our post-9/11 society? Then From the Memoirs of a Non-Combatant is for you!

The main character, Boy is a Filipino immigrant hoping to brake into the New York fashion scene. The story is told from Boy's point of view after he has been arrested and sent to Gitmo as a potential terrorist. According to Boy, it was all a big mistake and he had no idea he was business partners with real terrorists, Cleaver absurdity follows and we...more
Andriana Xenophontos
Wow, hard to come across a book that actually caused me to laugh out loud rather than just display a small grin. In addition to the humor, the book provided much insight to the injustices occurring to those imprisoned in Guantanamo Bay. The voice of Boy keeps the reader engaged while his love of fashion and pride in America cause them to question his devoted faith to a country that has done him wrong. Throughout the novel and the little footnotes provided, the reader can easily deduce that Boy b...more
Alysyn Reinhardt
This novel came to me at the right time.

Alex Gilvarry is a brilliant writer, and while the novel was excellent, I was so conscious of his decisions the entire time.
The novel fuses fashion, comedy with Guantanamo Bay, trauma. The comedic aspects of the story come mostly through Boy's voice, or the "ironic" moments throughout the novel, but also (and the most fun for me) the footnotes. The footnotes were so hysterical. They also work to both poke fun at Boy, while discrediting him.
Ultimately towar...more
Daphne
Jan 26, 2012 Daphne added it
Wonderful tragicomic novel that treats a dark and serious subject with a deft, light touch. Though farcical in tone (and I often found myself laughing out loud), the book is a powerful commentary on Guantanamo and beyond. Gilvarry uses humor to shine a light on the painfully absurd.
Ellen
This was just a ton of fun to read, even though the gist of the story is sobering. I found it to be a better book on the victims of the Patriot Act than Little Brother by Cory Doctorow simply because it was funny yet thoughtful and didn't hit you over the head with the message.
Juliango
Dec 18, 2011 Juliango is currently reading it
a staggering work of political hilarity
Katherine
*Many of the footnotes included (especially the ones regarding Boy's mistakes) crack me up.
"He began to resemble a Filipino George Michael circa 'Don't Let the Sun Go Down on Me'" (79).
“Before eighth grade I'd been much more inclined to sketch cartoonish bodies than hang out with real ones after school” (81).
“...an out of place L.L. Bean backpack with the initials T.W.M. rested against her ankle. I would find out later that the initials belonged to one Todd Wayne Mercer, an ex-boyfriend. He took...more
Linda
The title is long and vague, but this is an excellent satire of America's war on terror. Boyet "Boy" Hernandez is accused of being a fashion terrorist. He's from the Philippines and moves to New York to design women's clothing. Boy finds a girlfriend, and becomes successful with help from his investor, Ahmed, and publicist, Ben Laden. Boy gets a show at a major Fashion Week designer showcase in Bryant Park. Barney's, Neiman, and other buyers want his stuff and he needs more cash for production....more
Nelson
An enjoyable story that reads almost like a dare: someone tossed out the phrase 'fashion terrorist' and challenged the author to take the two terms literally in a novel. Boy Hernandez is a petite Filipino immigrant women's fashion designer who, naively, gets caught up with a supplier to terrorists. A triple threat novel in some ways: immigrant tale, mild send up of the world of fashion and more pointed attack on the war on terror and its concomitant social absurdities. The first and last of thes...more
Keith
Alex Gilvarry has taken a very challenging subject - namely inhumane and barely legal detention at Gtimo - and crafted a profound, funny, endearing and thought-provoking novel/commentary/screed. He's developed a deep and compelling character in Boy - who starts as the victim who stokes every ounce of anger in the reader, then morphs into a fighter who challenges the power structure, the thugs, the spooks, the thieves, the terrorists and the military brass and beats them all.

Boy's tale in the US...more
Paul
Apr 03, 2012 Paul rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommended to Paul by: Tom T.
This is not a book I’d heard much about, but a friend glowingly recommended it to me so I thought I’d give it a try. Wow! What a novel.

Taking place during the presidency of George W. Bush, the story centers on a young Filipino clothing designer (an immigrant to the U.S.) named Boy trying to make a name for himself in the fashion world. He becomes involved with a neighbor (a former fabric salesman named Ahmed) who becomes Boy’s financial angel. Little does the naïve Boy know that his patron is m...more
Asia Hoe
I read this book out of curiosity because the author is a friend of a friend (though I have not met the author personally). I approached it with no expectations, reading no prior reviews, watching only a promotional video. The book was certainly funny, but it was also very sad, particularly in the way it ended. It was lighthearted for the majority of the book, even in spite of the circumstances it conveyed, and then abruptly, it all shifted. I guess this approach makes sense, considering that's...more
Bennett Gavrish
Grade: B+

L/C Ratio: 40/60
(This means I estimate the author devoted 40% of his effort to creating a literary work of art and 60% of his effort to creating a commercial bestseller.)

Thematic Breakdown:
30% - Life of a detainee
25% - NYC fashion industry
20% - Humor
20% - Relationships
5% - Politics


I don't typically consider suspected terrorists to be a source of comedy. Then again, nothing about Gilvarry's debut novel is very typical – and that's what makes it so refreshing. The flashback approach is...more
Tianna Mignogna
It's sometimes hard to understand why the author makes the jump between writing about the character’s time in NYC and the character’s time in jail. Even halfway through the book I often confused the narrator with the main character with the author. Because the title has “Memoirs” in it, I think it’s kind of deceiving. It reads very much like nonfiction. Another reason why the nonfiction/fiction thing is confusing is that so much of the story is based off of real life events that it’s hard to sep...more
Audra (Unabridged Chick)
You're never going to believe what I'm about to tell you: this is a hysterical novel that combines fashion and politics. And it works!

Filipino fashion designer Boyet Hernandez moves to New York City in hopes of achieving his dream -- a haute couture fashion line -- and gets funding (reluctantly) from his blowhard neighbor Ahmed Qureshi. Boy is preoccupied with creating his line and getting his name out in the fashion world by doing styling, and he's happy to tune out Ahmed's bizarre behavior and...more
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I'm the author of a novel, "From the Memoirs of a Non-Enemy Combatant," which has been selected for the Indiebound Next List and the Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers Program. I'm also the editor of a book review website: Tottenville Review.
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“You see, real freedom is something tangible- it's the American's birthright- but it is also something that can be taken away at a moment's notice.” 1 likes
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