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The Quiet Ones

3.89  ·  Rating details ·  234 ratings  ·  51 reviews
During a regular shift at the call center, Alvin Estrada discovers a way to embezzle money from the American telecom giant for which he mans the phones. Soon a couple of friends join in, and the operation proceeds smoothly up until they quit, vowing to take the secret to their graves. A month later, a phone call at 4 in the morning tells Alvin that the police are on their ...more
Paperback, 386 pages
Published November 10th 2017 by Ateneo de Manila University Press
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Average rating 3.89  · 
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Lakan Umali
Dec 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing
THE QUIET ONES lures you in with a pitch and an opening scene straight from a crime-thriller, or from a really good game of Clue -- a man with a black bag at the airport, trying to escape from the police. But Diaz unleashes even better literary pyrotechnics to make you stay: scintillating prose that, with Drag Queen-like versatility, shifts from time periods to settings to characters to expose the beating heart at the center of each one of its scrappy characters. It excels both as a piece of fic ...more
Khaela de Leon
May 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I started this book with zero idea what it was all about, and the blurb and plotline were deceiving, so I initially thought it was a suspense/thriller novel. The book lacked plot. It was more of a commentary. But really, fuck the plot when you have these lyrical, well-constructed sentences in front of you. Glenn Diaz just wanted to tell stories: Of people, and their relationships. Of places, and its nuances. Of PH history, and its effects in the present. And he had told them beautifully, I can’t ...more
Fabian Mangahas
Dec 06, 2017 rated it it was ok
The Quiet Ones is about call center agent Alvin who finds himself involved in scamming his employer of tens of thousands of dollars. Set in modern day Manila, the novel is an observationally dense story of Alvin's direction in life -- and the lives of his colleagues, mother, sisters, boyfriend, and others.

I'm not sure where the author wanted to take this story. Do you know how it is when a friend tells you a personal story chock-full of details which you can't get yourself interested about?

If t
Neil (or bleed)
Jul 07, 2018 rated it liked it
3.5 quiet stars.
Phil Dela Cruz
Dec 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I developed a renewed and chastised relationship with the city after reading the novel. There is life in Manila after all: its voice buried alive and drowned by traffic along EDSA, its body crucified and pinned down by towering concrete skyscrapers standing proudly from Ayala to Ortigas. As a commuter living in Makati, and as a former BPO industry worker, the monotonous drag of everyday rush hours has the power to flatten the city to a mere afterthought. For a long time now, NCR has been nothing ...more
Feb 17, 2018 added it
Shelves: filipino, fiction
One review described Diaz's prose as "plain and muscular". These may be on account of its sass and virtuosic wit.

Another review claimed that the novel "pulverized banality". What was once a blur of routine and minor accidents was scrutinized, unveiled and perhaps, "pulverized" with the sheer weight of Diaz's details, dramatic moments, and lively dialogue.

Nonetheless there are some uneven portions within the novel which may be accounted by the writer's stylistic strategy. The novel, after all,
Feb 27, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: filipiniana
You get hooked not because of the plot - hardly anything happens in the novel - but because of the articulate, chatty and witty writing style. Most times the vivid descriptions impress. At other times they make for quite some mental gymnastics. Throughout, it was a relatable, almost too honest, "meditation on history and globalization" and ourselves, the Filipino people. ...more
Maria Ella
Goodness, that was so good. I was stressed with everything else when I encountered this book. Perhaps, this book and I were meant to meet on my downtime (when I was in Zambales, and when I was so lucky to go home earlier than expected).

The story line is a slow-burn, with all the characters introspecting about their lives, their philosophical pursuits, and the little mundane things like traffic and the art of commute. It was a roller-coaster of plot lines and emotions, and all those little tange
Jul 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing
“Regret: it felt rhythmic, like a mild but endless asthma attack. Regret rippled from core to the fringes.”

It’s not hard to love The Quiet Ones by Glenn Diaz. Each chapter of the novel – touching the topics of relationships, greed, and Jasmine Trias, among others – can very well stand on its own yet still perfect when consumed together. I also am in love with how small details were treated in the same level of importance as main points of the plot – making each interaction between characters ali
Aug 11, 2018 rated it really liked it
Forget the crime/thriller plot! This gripping and lyrical novel from Palanca award-winning author Glenn Diaz is more of a meditation on Philippine history and anthropology, and our place in this phenomenon called globalization. Full review on my blog ...more
Apr 30, 2020 rated it really liked it
And as a large portion of its narrative made me reminiscent of my first few years in the BPO- vividly bringing my once overburdened self back to memory; I realized this novel wasn't quiet after all. ...more
Dec 31, 2018 rated it it was amazing

Reading The Quite Ones by Glenn Diaz got me strayed into my thoughts to an unspoken reality of where I’m currently in at the moment – a man of mid twenties, working in a call center, and with personal attachment to the story. You don’t have to have that stature to feel the same, I’m sure enough that by giving this enough time, you’ll understand.

“Something happened when one was alone for too long. A wasting, a peeling off, like the duhat tree outside his window that remained standing even as its
Jun 23, 2019 rated it really liked it
I'm kind of unsure how to rate this book: on one hand I think the way it explored the themes of personhood and belonging was amazing. There's a thing I don't usually see in Filipino novels written in English, the question Alvin poses towards the end of the novel, about how Filipinos are deemed 'better' simply for speaking English fluently. There's a lot that this novel wants to unpack, which I think is pretty much the quintessential Filipino experience: the traces of colonisation vs our efforts ...more
Helen Mary Labao Barrameda
Sep 15, 2019 rated it really liked it
I first saw of this book at a bookstore and I just knew from reading the text in the back cover that I need to acquire this title for my collection. My bookworm's instinct turned out to be correct. For some reason, I finished this book almost a whole year after I bought it from a bookstore after a harrowing day at work.

The postcolonial Philippine culture is so real in this fictional universe that you can actually taste it as you peruse through the pages. I chose this book as my rainy weekend re
josh valentin
Aug 04, 2019 rated it really liked it
What's unique about The Quiet Ones is that it focuses on the whys of the crime. As one of the many readers who expected the novel to dwell on what happens once Alvin and his friends inevitably get caught, I was in for a treat once the novel takes a turn to focus on those who are involved in the crime. Once the novel lures us in to explore the lives of its many characters, we also explore the country the book is set in. Glenn Diaz' writing style provides us both with niche descriptives to help ...more
Dec 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: owned, ph-lit
REREAD (7/30/2020) - 4.5 STARS~ ROUNDED UP TO 5
wala po talagang bearing 'yung nauna kong review dahil mga 3 days lang nilaan ko para basahin 'tong libro az a naghahabol makapagpasa ng final requirements sa klase ni sir eros T____T ayon so binasa ko ulit siya ~2 years later and sobrang ganda T___T

-glenn diaz really said capitalism turns us all into numb, mindless machines and did he stutter tho??? his writing is SO GOOD. it feels...seamless, the way he weaves ideas together. it's like water. i
Thor Balanon
Jan 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Anger, desire, and history on mute. The Quiet Ones follows the intersecting lives of call center agents set in the noise of a country grappling with its fractured identity. There are crimes; there are heartbreaks. But there's also Jollibee, Jasmine Trias, and the kind of happiness that makes Pico Iyer sad. Diaz has accomplished what, in my mind, is impossible, a modern Filipino novel that is funny, thoughtful, critical and *extremely likable*. I am buddy-reading this with @mabidavid and our disc ...more
Sep 20, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
This book has easily become one of my favorites. I initially thought that I was going to embark on a call center's embezzlement gig (a rather interesting plot), but the book was more than that. The embezzlement played only a small part of the whole narrative. Glenn Diaz flawlessly painted the beauty/wreck that is Metro Manila, the relationships of seemingly ordinary characters with complex lives, Philippine history, capitalism, romance, and loneliness.

Reading the book felt like reuniting with a
Apr 08, 2020 rated it really liked it
Diaz sets up his work as a hyperlink cinema-inspired crime novel, with promises of jump cuts, wisecracking prose, amoral “dog-eat-dog” characters, and kinetic descriptions. That’s what it pretended to be for the first few pages, until it becomes completely something else: cartography — a linguistically crafted recreation of the city, an ex-subaltern that has learned to smooth-talk (and is smooth-talked) into hypercapitalism, and its ill-fated romance with everything it arranges as periphery. The ...more
Sep 06, 2020 rated it it was amazing
The Quiet Ones took my breath away forcing me to stare on its cover after I read its last pages. I feel overwhelming pride relishing the fact that it’s set in the country and metropolis I have a complicated relationship with. I saw myself sitting in the airport lounge, inside the train car braving the sweaty rides, and patiently holding myself together in the godforsaken traffic. In all its tragedy, it is a celebration of cultural identity that we rarely see on our shelves. I’m glad this was suc ...more
Josh Bata
May 24, 2018 rated it really liked it
We often find comfort in a beginning, a climax, and an end when reading stories. The Quite Ones' appeal does not emanate from this comfort, or expectation, if there is such, but its close-to-'reality' depiction of our every day uncertainties and contradictions. The novel is a depiction of our amorphous Philippine society - juggling between our contested narratives and our looming future, between the right to live and and the demise of our aspirations; and our continuing effort to unclutch our li ...more
Jan 09, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Thought this is a thriller throughout. I was wrong. It was far better than that. The writer once tweeted that if there were a soundtrack to this novel, it would be Joni Mitchell’s “ A Case Of You” I listened to it. It was perfect.

Things I liked:
-almost everything
Joshua Delos reyes
Dec 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Grace Jaucian
Jan 16, 2020 rated it it was amazing
call center heist thing. just awesome. so gay. explores the idea of the feeling of placelessness in manila
Nov 09, 2020 rated it liked it
The novel began as one thing, unfolded as another, and then finally ended as a whole new story. That is to say that it is unexpected and surprising. But this trait of the book has become its weakness because no one can tell what to expect, when all one want was a solid plot to hold on to.

In fact, one can argue that The Quiet Ones doesn't really have a thesis. It has an idea, a vast, sprawling one, and Diaz successfully cultivated this and it grew into stories, different from one another. These l
Sep 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing
The book takes us deep into the streets of Manila, its ambitions and dreams, even if it takes a crime to achieve them. The language is masterful, the characters so palpable you can hear them speak. This is a Filipino novel written in English, and a great novel, whichever way you see it.

Write some more books like this, please, Mr. Diaz!
Oct 24, 2020 rated it really liked it
3.5 stars!

It has a very strong opening hence establishing a good foundation of the story that will unfold before our eyes so you would not want to put it down once you started reading it. It’s like it is fresh out of suspenseful film leading into a wild and thrilling chase at the end and keeps your mind running on what’s about to happen.

Diaz wrote the novel beautifully. He has successfully woven intricate details together making it so much fun to read and not confusing given the alternating ti
Jan 10, 2019 rated it really liked it
Half way thru the book, I was so eager to skip to the last chapter just to see how all of the characters are connected, how it all ties up. The anxiety was so strong, I didn't realize the author casually threw the connection to my face.

I liked how mundane their relationships are but each of their stories are so unusual you wouldn't think it possible to a stranger you just met.
Mar 18, 2020 rated it liked it
A 3.5! I’ll probably bump this up to a 4 later. Only took me so long to finish because I wanted it to last. (The first 3 chapters!!!) I felt the first half was stronger, but all in all I had a good time with this book — bought it at a small mall in Ortigas, brought it with me as I flew to Cotabato and Iligan. I’ve admired the author’s writing since I was in college, so this was mostly a good read for me.
Milknight Reader
Oct 01, 2020 rated it really liked it
Superb writing by the wordsmith Glenn Diaz! The critical acclaim attests on this. Post-colonial fiction novel it is what it is. Also a hint of counter-capitalism.

The narrative from the first Escape is what I was expecting from the entire novel to sustain til its end. Part 1 came and I think I am in the right path. Then came Part 2 and it felt like I was reading another novel. The story is good but God knows my unintelligent ass did not comprehend on why Part 2 is placed like that. Then came Part
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Glenn Diaz’s first book The Quiet Ones (Ateneo Press) won the 2017 Palanca Grand Prize and the National Book Award. His work, including short fiction, poetry, and criticism, has been published in the US, Australia, Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia, and the Philippines. He is a recipient of the M Literary Residency at Sangam House in Bangalore, India, among other fellowships. Born and raised in Manil ...more

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“All that we did in this world was to salvage scraps of freedom.” 7 likes
“In my loneliness, I kept waiting for that sententious conversation with a stranger who was obviously a proxy for God, during which we affirmed man’s inner goodness and the divine signature in all things. There was nothing of the sort.” 2 likes
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