Ilustrado
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Ilustrado

3.38 of 5 stars 3.38  ·  rating details  ·  1,357 ratings  ·  222 reviews
Winner of the 2008 Man Asian Literary Prize while still in manuscript form, Ilustrado is a hip and secure first novel about the urgency of art and regret.

Ilustrado opens with Crispin Salvador, lion of Philippine letters, dead in the Hudson River. His young acolyte, Miguel, sets out to investigate the author’s suspicious death and the strange disappearance of an unfinished...more
Published (first published 2008)
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(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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K.D. Absolutely
Aug 29, 2014 K.D. Absolutely rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to K.D. by: Jzhun (his birthday gift to me last year)
Shelves: local, palanca
Reading Michael Syjuco's Ilustrado is like eating chopsuey.
chopsuey
Ingredients:
1 kg. Main Story Miguel Syjuco going back to Manila to find the truth about Crispin Salvador's death
1/2 kg. Biography in Progress Crispin Salvador Eight Lives Lived by Michael Syjuco
2 cups. Unfinished Manuscript The Bridge Ablaze
1/3 cup. Kaputol trilogy
5 tbs. Interview The Philippine-Gazette.com.ph
2 tps. 1988 Interview in the Paris Review
To taste: Crispin Salvador's email

For me, this is like reading patches of several para...more
Kwesi 章英狮
I don't know why I have to suffer from reading this book, it has a slow beginning, unpredictable ending and added with hifalutin words that can bleed your nose until the last word Syjuco wrote. It was a nice book, unfortunately, for me it was like another Filipino book that serves to criticize what a Filipino is. No changes made, same with Filipino authors (I don't like to mention), wrote the same thing as this book but thinner and more funnier. I don't know if this book really meant for Filipin...more
Monique
Five things about this book:

(1) A good dictionary should be a good companion/reference material. I'm a wide reader, and I think my vocabulary is fair because of the nature of my work, but I thought this book had one flowery word too many. Lots of big words, in my opinion meant more to impress than to express.

(2) I didn't want to read more about the sorry state of my country ~ its politics, economy, poverty, and people. When I picked this book, I thought I had a mystery to read about. Instead, w...more
jzhunagev
Jul 23, 2010 jzhunagev rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: all who've lost faith in Philippine Literature, this novel will prove you wrong!
Recommended to jzhunagev by: the "Voice"
Blurring Realities
(A Book Review of Ilustrado by Miguel Syjuco)



Ilustrado is the ambitious and exceptionally complicated debut novel by Miguel Syjuco that won the Palanca Grand Prize for the Novel Category in 2008 and the prestigious Man Asian Literary Prize later that year when it was still in manuscript form.

Since news of his prodigious success came out, I can’t help but feel elated, for his triumph is as much ours; his breakthrough is a vindication of sorts on our much neglected and often bel...more
Aldrin
Miguel Syjuco's "official" Web site is a joke. Entering www.miguelsyjuco.com (a perfectly innocuous URL) on your browser's address bar for the first time, you may be surprised seconds later to find neither the dynamic cleverness of an author Web site like Jennifer Egan's nor the static simplicity of something like David Mitchell's. Instead you'll be treated to an embarrassment of riches, chock-full as it is with blocks of text and images forming a tapestry of memes, and an assault on the senses,...more
Louize
Jul 25, 2011 Louize rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Louize by: Aldrin
SPOILERS ALERT



The Ilustrados of 19th century Philippines, the “enlightened ones”, were young men born from landowners; educated in Europe; top-hatted; monocled; and Spanish-speaking bucks; with nannies and tutors to run after them. Seemed a harsh truth, but the truth nonetheless. What’s good about these men, despite their higher social status, was that they sought reform through social equality and economic power for our country. It was through their works that injustices imposed on Filipinos...more
Kristel
Ilustrado is a novel full of and about fakes. The fragments that make up the book are themselves knockoffs of different genres--murder mystery, satire, interviews from The Paris Review, everything but the kitchen sink. Miguel Syjuco's brassy debut novel turns on its head the first accusation thrown in the face of every expat writing a novel set in the Philippines: "Just how authentic are you?"

Reveling in the flimsy divide between the true and made-up, Syjuco names his protagonist--a listless, wa...more
Leah
This book can be probably best described as an encyclopedic narrative encompassing most of what that genre entails - which would mean not only the 'fun' stuff like the different voices and media, but also the sometimes frustrating stuff - like digressions, obsessive inclusive of details, etc. I feel too it may also be a ghost story, in more ways than one. Because part of it takes on the voice of a young and inexperienced writer, there are parts of this book that are ridiculously (though in my op...more
Tintin
The scope and breadth of this novel is so mind-boggling I don't even know where to start.

Part of my difficulty reviewing Ilustrado is that I can't use the same yardstick I use for reviewing most fiction. My usual standards-- character dynamics, plot progression, willful suspension of disbelief -- don't matter as much in this book. It’s different. I had to set a different standard.

You'd think that a story covering the lives and family histories of two separate individuals spanning 150 years acros...more
Emir Never
"I'm a Filipino. I'm nothing else but a Filipino. I'd like to be a writer, not just defined by race," Miguel Syjuco, 2008 Man Asian Literary Prize-winning author of Ilustrado said in an interview with TIME .

In a way, the statement characterizes Syjuco's personal journey as a writer. Born to a well-to-do family, Syjuco shunned the comforts of his lineage at home to pursue writing abroad. But while Syjuco seeks not to be boxed by his roots, Ilustrado is inescapably rhizanthous— flowering with al...more
David
A competent piece of work but not really more than this.

The book had a few problems

~ Stylistically flat. In literary fiction there is an expectation of eloquence...this book approaches this but does not quite make it.
~ Characters are not compelling and/or believable.
~ The variety of source materials should sound like they're from different personalities and they don't really do this. All seems to be the same flat character.
~ Too many pop culture references. The problem with this is that it giv...more
Jinky
Talk about art reflecting life! The fictional character is named after himself (author)... exactly Miguel Syjuco. An outlandish concept to me and part of the genius this book offers ... the confusion is a foreshadow of telling you to prepare yourself for a brain workout! Yes, this book is definitely a find that challenges the brain (see my blog title description). Pull out your dictionary because Mr. Syjuco, both the author and character (haha), throws out many fancy words. After all, he has to...more
Bennard
from The Book Hooligan

There are only three truths. That which can be known. That which can never be known. The third, which concerns the writer alone, truly is neither of these. - Crispin Salvador

The Philippines is a country unlike any other. Our trajectory in history has been decided, for more than 300 years, by foreigners who colonized us. This, in turn, made us search and question our identity and place in history. Should our norms, practices, and culture be Asian, European, or American? In w...more
Elliot Ratzman
My book club did not like this book, yet it won the Asian Man prize two years before it was published and there was talk of a Nobel nomination for this young author’s first novel. It is a difficult, fragmented pomo book, consisting of seemingly random arrangement of the fiction, essays, autobiography, jokes and biography of a made-up Filipino author living in NYC, teaching at Columbia. His biography is being researched by another Filipino writer-in-exile, also from a well-connected Manila family...more
James Murphy
Ilustrado is a term for the new, young Filipinos alive with promise. They're movers and shakers with immense potential. Ilustrado the novel is about one such individual, the writer Crispin Salvador, whose story is told in a long ribbon of poems, memoirs, interviews, and fragments of novels and essays. This treasure is collected and presented for us by the writer Miguel Syjuco who returns to the Philippines following Salvador's untimely death in order to uncover truths about the man who'd been bo...more
Mag
A Filipino ilustrado embarks on a journey to discover the real cause of drowning of an author, in which we mainly weave between the Philippines and North America, Manila and New York. Ilustrado, if you wonder, is an interesting word with several meanings ranging from just being illustrated as with a book, through being wise, to denoting a man who made something of himself through being enlightened or learned. I found it neat that the story delivered in all the meanings of the word. The story is...more
Jeniffer Almonte
This is such a hard book to review...

First of all, it's really ambitious and I think ambition should be rewarded. None of the problems I had with the book had to do with structure (switching back and forth between the first person, Salvador's autiobiography, a biography about Salvador, some works of fiction etc ect). I actually think all that stuff worked really well. And I was generally really impressed with Miguel Syjuco's often beautiful writing. He is, for a lack a better word, hardworking....more
Don Jaucian
There is no arguing that Miguel Syjuco’s Ilustrado is a well-written, amazing piece of work. Amazing in the sense that it boldy delves into post-modernism; a dizzying pastiche of Philippine History as seen through an outsider’s eyes. Because no matter how you position it, Syjuco’s Philippines is the Philippines as seen by balikbayans, OFWs and expats. There’s nothing really new. And what is there to tell anyway? Corruption, sleazy politicians, wayward youth and lost heritages. Is that all there...more
Dante
Ilustrado is a novel by Miguel Syjuco. (Spoliers ahead!)

Honestly, I didn't understand the story very much. It’s fragmented, and the author is very verbose. I only began to sort of grasp the whole unity of the novel when it was about to end. The twist in the ending reminded me of the twist in Sophie's World by Jostein Gaarder. I didn't quite expect it.

From what my feeble mind was able to gather, the story is about a young writer who loses his mentor. The latter’s death is mysterious. No one knows...more
Rav De Castro
This is some serious crap and waste of time. It's like a know-it-all classmate who just transferred to your esteemed university from a small-town community college who wants to show the world that he knows about stuff. I can believe it won an award. I mean, the Syjucos have money.
Aban (Aby)
I was keen to read this book because of the award it received and the rave reviews it had from the Globe and Mail. I was also eager to read a book about the Philippines, written by a Filipino, because of our visit there and our family connections to that country.

It's the story of two writers: Crispin Salvador and Miguel Syjuco (same name as the author!). At the beginning of the book, Salvador's body is found dead, floating in a river somewhere in the USA. Miguel decides to write a biography abo...more
Lit React
It's a common complaint that the special effects in movies today are extraneous, explosions and computer graphics inserted into a narrative simply because the director/studio can. Filipino writers in English (IMHO) have the tendency to be the Jerry Bruckheimers or George Lucases (I still love Star Wars though) of literature. They are skilled and they can write and they are hell bent on proving these facts by using every special effect in their writing arsenal.

This penchant for writing FX is on f...more
John Levi Masuli
Ilustrado is the perfect hearty meal for the sophisticated literati. It employs a wide array of cute literary techniques and displays wide knowledge on a many issues especially the Philippine political situation, the state of Philippine literature/ writers, internal struggles, to mention a few. However, despite its overtly high artistic ambitions, I find its open-ended diagnosis of Philippine society lacking. The 'empty box'which supposedly contains Crispin Salvador's magnum opus symbolizes less...more
Nenette
Finally finished it! A record read for me - took me more than 2 weeks to finish! Firstly, there's the very unfriendly font. There were many kinds of typeface fonts that were used, with the regular one proving to be a challenge to read at night; so much more for the smaller typeface which was italized! Oh well, even if it was the tiniest of font, I would surely have found a light bright enough to read it, if only it was able to hold me, but it didn't.

This is a satire, and the story was interesti...more
Kalika
I started this book several months ago and finally finished it last week, having read several other books in between. It wasn't that I found it boring, just that there were so many threads and narrative styles interwoven that I found it easier to take breaks and difficult to get fully immersed. But I am glad that I did.
The story of a young Filipino writer's investigation into the murder and hence, the life of his mentor, Crispin Salvador (another ex-pat Filipino writer found dead in NY) spins o...more
Rashida
"One thing you'll learn when you get older is that when you hate someone so much, a part of you wants desperately to forgive them. But you can't decide if it's because you really want to, or if you just want to stop hating. I still don't know if forgiveness is generous or selfish. Maybe both."

Why is this quote at the start of my review? Is it some overarching theme of the novel? Not particularly. But this was the moment, 95 pages in, where I said, "okay, I'm going to read the rest of this book,...more
Rise
The puzzle fragments of this novel, like the famed Hundred Islands in Pangasinan, form an island chain of experiences and consciousness. The sequence is filtered through several narrative ecosystems: immigrant experience, colonialism, cultural diffusion, literary questionings, historical deficits, failures of identity. At the center of Ilustrado are two writers struggling with their own demons.

It was a pleasure to read this novel from its strong prologue to the multiplicity of excerpts and "exce...more
Krizia Anna
It was a very modern piece about the political mess called the Philippines and the fictional life of the author and his mentor. It has a really nice twist at the end that I did not expect and Syjuco did a great job. He was very strategic to the point that you just stop predicting what will happen next. However, when reading "Ilustrado" make sure you have a dictionary and an alarm clock ready. It was full of hifalutin words and is really dragging. The story really started slow for me and if you'r...more
Tin
Since I would find it difficult to review this thoroughly (due to the fact that I would probably end up spoiling the entire plot), here's my opinion in a few sentences/points:

(1) It's very ambitious. It doesn't even feel like that much of a novel. To borrow a fanfiction term, it seems like the novel is set up in an "alternate universe".

(2) It's quite...trippy, for the lack of a better word. There's too much alternation among the point of views, which I think could make the reader love or hate th...more
Rob
Jan 16, 2013 Rob rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Filipinos, Filipinos who can tolerate a lot of weirdness
The story begins with Crispin Salvador’s corpse and his missing manuscript of “sins”. Miguel the protégée suspects foul play, and hunts for his mentor’s unfinished work. At first blush Ilustrado is a murder mystery. Several paragraphs later, you’ve got enough inspiration to parody Jobim’s Waters of March.

Ilustrado intersperses storytelling with immense world-building: literary ‘excerpts’ (mostly Crispin’s), a glut of allusions to real political and showbiz characters, historical events and cult...more
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Miguel Syjuco earned a master’s degree from Columbia University and is completing his PhD at the University of Adelaide, Australia. He received the 2008 Man Asian Literary Prize and the Philippines’ highest literary honor, the Palanca Award, for the unpublished manuscript of Ilustrado. Born in 1976 into a political family in Manila, Syjuco left the Philippines to become a writer. He currently live...more
More about Miguel Syjuco...
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“It kills me how these days everyone has clinical justification for their strangeness.” 62 likes
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