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3.57 of 5 stars 3.57  ·  rating details  ·  1,565 ratings  ·  106 reviews
Jessica Hagedorn has transformed her bestselling novel about the Philippines during the reign of Ferdinand and Imelda Marcos into an equally powerful theatrical piece that is a multi-layered tour de force. Jessica Hagedorn is a performance artist, poet, novelist and playwright, born and raised in the Philippines.
Paperback, 251 pages
Published 1991 by Harpercollins (first published 1990)
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(showing 1-30 of 2,906)
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K.D. Absolutely
Jan 17, 2015 K.D. Absolutely rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to K.D. by: Pinoy Reads Pinoy Books
My very first time to read a novel by Jessica Hagedorn (born 1949), a Philippine-born American novelist, playwright, poet and multimedia performance artist. I purchased my copy of this book in 2010 but postponed reading this several times because of what a friend said that it is similar to Miguel Syjuco's Ilustrado (2 stars). That this and Syjuco's are both composed of short stories or vignettes with no cohesion because of the absence of unifying theme. That both are trying hard to be seen as po ...more
~✡~Dαni(ela) ♥ ♂♂ love & semi-colons~✡~
1.5 stars

The rating on this one kept slipping the more I read. I started with, OK, this might be interesting; moved to, This is totally nonsensical, no more; and culminated in: What the fuckety fuck, I mean, WTF??? WHAT?

This book in a nutshell: BIG. HOT. MESS. Sizzling MESS!

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Rather than write a novel, Hagedorn threw together a series of stories. No, scratch that. These aren't stories. They're vignettes, snatches of lives, bits of memories, crumbs of experience. The prob
Quite a frenetic and schizophrenic book. I can see that Hagedorn was attempting to create an intricate picture of the mostly seedy underbelly of Manila but it felt a bit crowded. For example, there is a kind of *gasp* moment near the end that I just shrugged at because I couldn't remember why that character was important. I don't know that it benefited from its large cast of characters. I also don't like feeling cheated at the end and I felt a bit of that reading the two conflicting accounts of ...more
Ervin Patrick
My Year-End (2012) and Year-Start (2013, of course) Read

First read: perplexing

Second read: still somehow perplexing

This book is filled with too many perplexing events! Too many perplexing people! Perplexing Hagedornish writing style! I had the difficulty of reading between the lines; of trying to understand what the author was trying to say. But perhaps that was because, as much as I love Historical Fiction, I don't know much about my country's (I'm Filipino, by the way) history - the heyday of
This is the second book I've read that takes place in the Philippines, and like the first book I read about the country (Jose Rizal's Noli Me Tangere) I enjoyed it very much. Such depth in detail of the main characters and locales, the use of real primary sources (such as President McKinley's diary entry) and farce primary sources to add to the feel of truth v. truth (printed v. gossip). Overall, a great piece of literature that I'm proud to have added to my collection.
Jim Fonseca
Remember Ferdinand Marcos, dictator of the Philippines, and his wife Imelda with her storage rooms filled with 3,000 pairs of shoes? This novel, published in 1990, came out of that era. Of course it has to reflect the clash of classes – the ultra-rich and the have-nots. So we have one set of characters who are super-wealthy; tied to the dictator and his cronies, the businessmen, the generals and the high administrative officials who have mansions, luxury cars, lavish parties, servants and beauty ...more
Often when reading post-colonial works there is a feeling that alternate realities are being described, dream states and counter-histories which have been suppressed or erased by the official history. Hagedorn performs such an archaeological procedure in her ferocious and volcanic work, Dogeaters, a text which systematically dismantles the ruthlessness and heartlessness of the Marcos regime, as well as indicting the American colonial presence which still lingers in the Philippines in the form of ...more
I can't give a full evaluation of this book as of yet, but I can say that if you're at all interested in learning about gritty side of Filipino politics, history, and identity, then this book is for you. The language is cryptic, yet bold, and maybe even brash. The way that Hagedorn is able to tell the individual stories of people from various levels of society is masterful. I'm reading this slowly, as it is very rich in detail and I don't want to miss anything!
Aug 01, 2007 Paolo rated it 1 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: noone
Why are Asian Ams so frakkin obsessed with 'Dogeaters'? I caught the Papp production of the novel years ago with a fella Flip writer, and we both agreed that ten minutes into the show, we realized that the jokes were on Filipinos and the Philippines. I remember the first line as "Welcome to the toilet zone...", and the play proceeded with its nearly three hour litany against the birthplace of the author. I want those three hours back.
I wish I could give this 3.5 stars. I read it as part of the WSJ book club. I actually liked it, and I think it presents a very good portrait of a developing country: the class strata, the dictator, corruption.

The book is slow to develop, and yes, the chapters jump between characters, often with no warning. But I was never confused and ultimately looked forward to certain characters' chapters, especially Joey and Rio.

Catholicism figures prominently in this novel, which can be expected because th
Nov 14, 2010 Dusty rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Dusty by: Julia Lee
Mostly, I liked this book. Jessica Hagedorn writes a sharp satirical sentence, has a wealth of knowledge of "classic" and "campy" American popular culture, and applies both of these skills naughtily/impactfully. I like that Dogeaters tells the story of an identity- and power-fraught nation (the Philippines) allegorically through the daily struggles of its own identity- and power-fraught inhabitants (cross-dressers, nationalist politicians who buy European fashions, etc.). Some of the characters ...more
With very mixed reviews, I wasn't sure I was going to opt in when this book was chosen for Wall St Journal Bookclub, but I read the Kindle sample and was hooked. Manila in the not too distant past; a cast of thousands (ok, dozens); poverty and privilege; vice, corruption, violence, pop culture, innocence, religion, family and friendships. Dogeaters has it all!

With its huge ensemble cast of characters, each chapter of Dogeaters presents the point of view of a particular character. This was a comm
Jennifer Lesnick
Hagedorn describes this book as a love letter to her country. While she certainly is a gifted writer, I can't say that I enjoyed this book. She paints the picture of several different characters and it was difficult for me to keep track of them all. Even more, she paints a realistic picture of the Philippines: there is wealth and then there is extreme poverty. And the poverty that she depicts is brutally painful to read. While I appreciated learning more about the reality of the Philippines, thi ...more
There are novels you devour and novels that devour you. Hagedorn consumes; her appetite is voracious and her feast is ours. Dogeaters is alive. The narrative is a polyphonic, frenetic movement of place and character. Readers never really get our bearings. The fluidity of the landscape and people slip through our fingers. No one and nothing can be pinned down. Hagedorn hasn't so much captured on the page a country, its people and cultures at a specific moment in history, but she has tapped into t ...more
This is quite hard to rate, to be honest.

Our country belongs to women who easily shed tears and men who are ashamed to weep.

Dogeaters is my first Jessica Hagedorn book, and it certainly won't be my last. This is the fourth novel that I've read that revolved around the Martial Law period (more suggestions, anyone?). Admittedly, though, this wasn't really the kind of book I was expecting to read when I started my odyssey to scavenge for novels related to the dictatorship. What I was hoping for
Do you know the feeling you get when your drugs run out and you're not in love with that German director john you've been sleeping with and your pimp of an uncle is screwing you over again and your whole country is corrupt and your Lana Turnerish mom is breathing down your neck to start acting like a proper young lady already? Well, you will after you read Dogeaters. It's a crazy fast paced dissection of Manila society circa 1950s/60s, and it rocks.
I really enjoyed this book but I was left confused by the ending. These are one of those books that I will probably reread again to fully understand it. This story was told by different characters and there point of view of life in Manila and as a Filipino. I did enjoy that aspect of the book but I felt that the main point of the story which was how these characters were all connected somehow after the senator was murdered began when the book was almost over. I blame that on the fact that the bo ...more
One part telenovela, one part newspaper serial, one part culture clash and one part comedy of errors, Dogeaters by Jessica Hagedorn was definitely one of the most interesting books I’ve read this year. Winner of the American Book Award and nominated for the National Book Award in 1991, Dogeaters is definitely a unique introduction to the Philippines.

The novel reminded me a lot of Armistead Maupin’s Tales of the City series in it’s breath of coverage and it’s fast paced serialized type chapters.
Dogeaters takes us back to the era of the Ferdinand Marcos dictatorship in the Philippines. Jessica Hagedorn gives us a fast-moving, visceral, at times disorienting, and frequently surreal portrait of the Philippines under harsh repression.

The novel shows us the brutality of the regime by not showing us the dictatorship directly (for the most part), and I think this made it more powerful. Instead, we follow around the denizens of Manila as they just live their lives. We peek into the upper eche
Dogeaters is a penetrating analysis of the modern history of the Philippines depicting the harsh realities of a politically corrupt system. It reflects the reality of what the current political figures in society are like and how their actions, beliefs, and decisions affect every person in the country on one level or another. The connections between the characters are complex and the political dynamic of the Philippines is inundated with deception, controversy, scandal, and intrigue. All of the ...more
This is another book I read for my Asian-American lit class that I wouldn't have read if it hadn't been assigned, and if I had read it, I likely wouldn't have finished it because I found the writing style off-putting. It's very fast, jarring, jolting, MTV generation kind of thing. The perspective shifts from chapter to chapter. One chapter is first person, the next third. You are thrown into the lives of seemingly unrelated people from differing classes, and it's over-stimulating and fast. You d ...more
Ma. Lalaine
This is Manila in the 80's. She paints it with vigor and magnanimous character that sometimes you get into the whirl. Who is Joey again? The guy who is poor and a whore. With so many woman in the book I like Daisy but I remember Lolita. You will read the escapades of the young and the old when the city is filled with dirty money and tricks. It beats up the police/military image and the obscene images of the bar in our streets makes you think twice if you want to invite your foreign friends here. ...more
Lola Wallace
I read this book as an undergrad and basically remembered NOTHING about it. nothing stuck. rereading it now, I was again underwhelmed, although the last two chapters (2 pp each) were phenomenal. although I think sudden revelations of narrator unreliability should be used advisedly, and this one seemed kind of weird since it wasn't clear how much of the book was supposed to have been narrated by Rio, and I had no real grasp of her as a character until right before the end, when she talks about he ...more
I really, really liked this book. After reading Rizal's Noli Me Tangere (Touch Me Not), one distinction was at the many similarities these both had. One can even say that it is a contemporary renewal of it.

Unlike Noli, this was way easier and certainly more, how ever disturbing it can be, enjoyable to read. From Rio, to Pucha, Baby, Joey, Lolita Luna, the characters are so rich in their stories, its truly compelling.Even though you have to read more in between the lines to fully grasp at what Ha
John Molina
"Dogeaters" was a good interesting read. The book had some very delusional characters whose delusions served to provide the story its own twisted take on the Americanization of the modern day Philippines. The style and tone of the novel was great, it had dark humor throughout, and, at times through satire, was able to highlight some of the injustices that can occur when a country allows a dictatorship and suppresses free speech. I would have given this book a higher score, but since I read the b ...more
It's funny hearing some of the usual lingo that I've heard in my childhood like "corny". I also really liked that Hagedorn captured the Filipinos interest in movies. I really enjoyed reading this except that there were so many characters and there was a point that I couldn't remember who's who anymore. I just had to let go and try to understand the context of what was going on. It seems that there were 2 main narrators, Rio and Joey. Rio's ending was conclusive but I wonder what happened to Joey ...more
Erin Heisler
Jan 05, 2012 Erin Heisler rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Erin by: Fall Semester 2010
Shelves: own, for-class
I really enjoyed this book. The plot and characters keep you enthralled in what is happening but Hagedorn also makes a point to add social commentary and question the post-colonial environment.

I appreciated her writing techniques (ie. the repetitive use of "because" in The Coconut King, the stream of consciousness in The Presidents Wife has a Dream, and the integration of Filipino languages, slang, Spanish and English). I also really loved her pairing of dreams, "reality," texts, newspaper artic
it took me forever to read this book but that had nothing to do with the book itself (more to do with teaching, writing, grading, having a baby, being in a play, etc, etc) which was an enjoyable albeit often disturbing read. i feel like i learned something of the culture and history of the phillipines though i probably could have been a bit better informed before i began reading. strong reminiscent of cristina garcia, who i love, and louise erdrich a little bit but more visceral than her novels ...more
Ivan Labayne
ito muna: too bad i've read gina apostol's bibliolepsy before this one; this one paled and then got shy
Andy Oram
The over-sized cast in this book represent variations on a dull theme. Except for the narrator, who is something of a blank slate, all the major characters are vain, corrupt, dissolute, uncaring, and nasty. The plot does not move much either, except for some moderate excitement near the end as some characters try to evade the police, and the style is fairly plodding except for a few lyrical flights. The bits of historical and political commentary fail to tie in to the main part of the book.
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Literary Fiction ...: Marlon James Picks "Dogeaters" For WSJ Book Club 5 35 Feb 05, 2015 12:28PM  
500 Great Books B...: Dogeaters - Jessica Hagedorn 1 7 Jul 26, 2014 07:33PM  
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Jessica Tarahata Hagedorn was born (and raised) in Manila, Philippines in 1949. With her background, a Scots-Irish-French-Filipino mother and a Filipino-Spanish father with one Chinese ancestor, Hagedorn adds a unique perspective to Asian American performance and literature. Her mixed media style often incorporates song, poetry, images, and spoken dialogue.

Moving to San Francisco in 1963, Hagedorn
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“The Suffering Pilipino: We Pinoys suffer collectively from a cultural inferiority complex. We are doomed by our need for assimilation into the West and our own curious fatalism...He describes us as a complex nation of cynics, descendants of warring tribes which were baptized and colonized to death by Spaniards and Americans, as a nation betrayed and then united only by our hunger for glamour and our Hollywood dreams.” 6 likes
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