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From the Memoirs of a Non-Enemy Combatant

3.63  ·  Rating Details ·  604 Ratings  ·  103 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
Hardcover, 302 pages
Published January 5th 2012 by Viking (first published January 1st 2012)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Alex Gilvarry
Dec 15, 2011 Alex Gilvarry rated it it was amazing  ·  (Review from the author)
That's right, I reviewed my own book.
Nibra Tee
Feb 05, 2015 Nibra Tee rated it really liked it
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
Jan 20, 2014 Paul rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
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
Benito Jr.
Mar 25, 2012 Benito Jr. rated it really liked it

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,
John Luiz
Jan 12, 2012 John Luiz rated it it was amazing
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
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,
Aug 10, 2016 Peggy rated it really liked it
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
Dec 18, 2011 Juliango is currently reading it
a staggering work of political hilarity
Jaime Boler
Feb 23, 2012 Jaime Boler rated it really liked it
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
Apr 21, 2012 Sandie rated it really liked it
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
Mar 03, 2014 IronBlossom rated it it was ok
Shelves: book-a-day
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
Jan 28, 2012 Jane rated it really liked it
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
Feb 09, 2012 Amodini rated it really liked it
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
Carol  MacInnis
Oct 16, 2011 Carol MacInnis rated it really liked it
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
Jan 19, 2012 Danny rated it liked it
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
Oct 15, 2011 Jeannelle rated it really liked it
"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
Jul 31, 2016 Dave rated it liked it
This pretend memoir of an up and coming fashion designer from the Philippines imprisoned unjustly in the war on terror aspires to be something greater than it is. Written primarily in the voice of Boy Hernandez, the designer, is too smug, egotistical, and ill-informed for his own good and as such is more annoying than worthy of sympathy. While he does not deserve his black-site detention, it is still hard to care much about him. Where the book is strongest is nearer to the end where the paranoia ...more
Apr 09, 2012 Ellen rated it it was amazing
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.
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.
Dec 13, 2016 Elissa rated it it was amazing
A hilarious and ultimately terrifying (hilarifying?) book about a fashion designer who ends up at Guantanamo Bay. Completely riveting, endlessly enjoyable and a fascinating and sensitive commentary on terrorism panic, Gitmo and the fashion industry. From this description, it doesn't sound like this book should work, but it's truly fantastic.
Apr 25, 2012 Katherine rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction
*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).
“ 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
H R Koelling
Apr 30, 2012 H R Koelling rated it really liked it
Every once in a while I find one of those truly odd books that I can't put down because I love it so much. This is one of those books. The concept of this novel is so farfetched and outlandish that, although the writing isn't 100% laugh-out-loud hilarious, the big picture of what's going on is incredibly weird. But this isn't a "weird" book, per se, it's just a weird concept: Filipino fashionista arrives in NYC almost penniless, takes the fashion world by storm and then ends up a prisoner in Git ...more
Apr 03, 2012 Paul rated it really liked it
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
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
Dec 04, 2013 Nelson rated it liked it
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
May 25, 2015 Kenny rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It took me a lot longer than I was first deceptively led to believe...the prose reads so silkily. It lulls you and makes you feel like it's just absorbed. I guess, the word could be charming...I went back and revisited Gina Apostol's novel, The Gun Dealer's Daughter, which I did an independent project on, and found Alex Gilvarry's author's blurb, so the connection is now confirmed. OF course, much of this uses similar techniques - plays on names, (homophonic coincidences, I think he calls them); ...more
Mar 08, 2013 Linda rated it really liked it
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
Bennett Gavrish
May 02, 2012 Bennett Gavrish rated it really liked it
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
Alysyn Reinhardt
Aug 11, 2016 Alysyn Reinhardt rated it really liked it
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
Nov 29, 2012 Keith rated it really liked it
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
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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.
More about Alex Gilvarry...

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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.” 2 likes
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