Jump to ratings and reviews
Rate this book

State of War

Rate this book
An endless festival amidst an endless war is the central image of this stunning novel about the Philippines of the Marcos era, a time of brutality, treachery, and betrayed passion.

As the novel opens, our focus, in the Book of Acts, is on three young people—Eliza Hansen, Adrian Banyaga, and Anna Villaverde—as they arrive on the island of K_____ for the annual festival. Adrian is rich, innocent, handsome—the son of a leading family; Anna has been widowed in the rebel struggle and was herself detained and tortured by the military; Eliza, the beautiful daughter of a courtesan, is now the object of the perverted desires of the depraved Colonel Amor, Anna's tormentor.

As the heat of the carnival brio rises, so do intimations of revolution, for somewhere in the jungle the rebel leader Guevara is plotting a terrorist act: a bomb will be placed at the speakers' stand timed to explode when the governor appears. Anna makes contact with the rebels, while Eliza plots to kill Amor for what he has done to her friend. And Adrian is captured and drugged by the colonel.

As the tension builds, the novel moves back in time, in the Book of Numbers, on a headlong, magical, sometimes hallucinatory reprise of Filipino history and the history of the families of the three young people. We learn of the Japanese atrocities, Filipino greed and treachery, American coldness and venality. We learn how Adrian's fortune was made, how Anna became the strange and silent thinker she is, how Eliza is distantly related by European blood to Anna. And we meet characters whose literally fabulous—a woman who forces icons to respond prayers, a distillery owner who is also master of forty-two ways of self-indulgence, a self-contained maid who determines her master's fat, a boy who falls in love with saxophone, a teenage Chinese girl with bound feet who dreams of the return of the Manchu Dynasty, a German chemist unable to brew beer...

Finally, in the Book of Revelations, we reawaken to the present: once again we are at the festival on K_____, about to witness the novel's shattering conclusion, its terrifying finale.

Like Isabel Allende's The House of The Spirits, Ninotchka Rosca's novel is both a work of art and a powerful illumination of an entire culture and a country in conflict. Her achievement is timeless as well as masterful.

382 pages, Newsprint

First published January 1, 1988

Loading interface...
Loading interface...

About the author

Ninotchka Rosca

13 books77 followers
Ninotchka Rosca is an outstanding contemporary writer, human rights activist and feminist. She is the author of six books: her short story collections include Bitter Country and Monsoon Country; her two novels are State of War and Twice Blessed which earned the 1993 American Book Award for excellence in literature; and her books of non-fiction are Endgame: The Fall of Marcos and Jose Maria Sison: At Home in the World - Portrait of a Revolutionary. Rosca's short stories have been included in several anthologies, among them, the 1986 Best 100 Short Stories in the U.S. compiled by Raymond Carver and the Missouri Review Anthology. She is a two-time recipient of the New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowship and a frequent contributor to Ms. Magazine, The Nation, Village Voice, Q and other U.S. and European periodicals.

Rosca is an internationally-known activist for human rights. A political prisoner under the Marcos regime in the Philippines, she was forced into exile when threatened with a second arrest. Rosca has participated in numerous world forums and conferences for human rights. She serves on the board of the Survivors Committee, a network of former political prisoners and human rights activists. She has also been in leadership positions with Amnesty International and the PEN American Center.

Rosca was a founder and the first national chair of the GABRIELA Network (AF3IRM/GABnet), a Filipina-American women’s rights organization in the United States. She is the international spokesperson of GABRIELA Network's Purple Rose Campaign against the trafficking of women, with an emphasis on Filipinas. She is also a board member of The Sisterhood Is Global Institute and the initiating committee of Mariposa Alliance.

She was active in planning the UN Conference on Women which took place in Beijing, China. Rosca is particularly concerned with women's human rights focusing on the issues of sex tourism, trafficking, the mail-order bride industry, and violence against women.

For her achievements, Rosca has been designated as one of the 12 Asian American Women of Hope by the Bread and Roses Cultural Project. These women were chosen by scholars and community leaders for their courage, compassion and commitment in helping to shape society. They are considered role models for young people of color, who, in the words of Gloria Steinem, "have been denied the knowledge that greatness looks like them."

Source: Speak Out

Ratings & Reviews

What do you think?
Rate this book

Friends & Following

Create a free account to discover what your friends think of this book!

Community Reviews

5 stars
324 (47%)
4 stars
166 (24%)
3 stars
117 (17%)
2 stars
48 (7%)
1 star
27 (3%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 48 reviews
Profile Image for K.D. Absolutely.
1,820 reviews
February 11, 2017
Definitely a must-read for all Filipinos who still believe that the Marcoses are not guilty. This is also one of the books that I would like our President Rodrigo Duterte to read. Through the backstories of the three main characters, Eliza Hansen, Adrian Banyaga, and Anna Villaverde in the second part of the book called The Book of Numbers, he would have a good review of our history as a nation. Don't get me wrong, this isn't a history book, but through what happened to these characters and how their lives intertwined, President Duterte would have a better perspective of the ails that's rooted in our system and they don't have anything to with drugs.

In fact, I would like to suggest that buying and reading this book be a form of protest against the Marcoses. Let's repeat what happened sometime in 1897 when the Spanish government banned Jose Rizal's Noli Me Tángere (5 stars) and so it had to be smuggled to the country. Possession of the book at that time means death but this did not prevent the educated Filipinos. Educated because the book was written in Spanish and only the educated (translation: rich) ones can read and speak that language.

The book is not an easy read. The prose is mesmerizing. The plot is engaging. The story is achingly familiar especially to somebody like me who was born in 1964 and thought while in grade school that Ferdinand Marcos would be the president forever. It is not an easy read because it reminded me of the atrocities of the Martial Law regime when the likes of Anna Villaverde were tortured by the military because of their had the guts of opposing the dictator. This is still happening now, almost 30 years after Marcos was removed from power, with the likes of Senator Leila Delima who was Duterte's main critic. President Duterte used to lambast with left and right accusations to lose her credibility not only as a senator but also as a woman. Months have passed and there is not a single case filed against the poor lady. She was tried by publicity and Duterte had a upper-hand not only because he is the president but also because he has more followers.

This book sat on my bookshelf for a number of years before I decided to crack this open. I regretted this. This book is not only a must-read. It is also an urgent-read. This is an eye-opener. Or a reminder of what Marcoses did to our country and to their helpless victims. Senator Bongbong Marcos must read this too so that he'll finally realize what went on outside the confines of the Malacanang Palace when he was a young man. Governor Imee Marcos was already a young lady, the chairman of the Kabataang Barangay, and woe to her for telling that she was "ang liit-liit pa" during his father's reign of terror.

Come on, people, buy and read this book and let's all foil the return of the Marcoses to the palace in the next national elections.
Profile Image for DC.
249 reviews87 followers
August 23, 2012
This is a book not to be taken lightly. This is a book that requires a steady head and deep thinking. This is a dangerous book.

It deals with the history of the Filipino people, from pre-Spanish (with the priestesses babaylan who wore gold trinkets & traded with the Chinese) to Spanish (with the friars and other foreigners, such as Germans, who come to this godforsaken land to grab something that is not theirs) to American (with Hey, Joe! and chocolates aplenty) to the current (with the beautiful wife of the Commander-President who wears the shirts of butterfly sleeves).

It also looks into the inner workings of society that is kept from the newspapers – it talks about rebellions, refugees, whores, politics, prophecies, poverty, religion, stupidity, rape, torture, death. It’s a neat view into the progressions of Philippine society from its very roots, and from all levels. (Note: Its setting is concentrated in the Luzon/Manila area, although I'd hazard a guess that K---- is located in The Visayas.)

This book, on the one hand, is beautiful. Its words are like waves crashing, plying the sand, creating beautiful music to the tune of silver bells. Its words are like the rugged drumbeats, playing its sound on rhythmic body movements. Its words are like whispers between lovers after their coupling, holding hands while looking at a future together. The storytelling is seemingly messed up, but calculated to be so. Each event, each leaf, each breath of air is so important to the overall development of the story. It’s breathtaking, just looking at the intricate web formed by the masterful hand of Rosca.

(I am somewhat reminded of Gabriel Garcí­a Márquez, although I think Rosca’s prose is a little more poignant. Reviewers mention that her work has the tones of Franz Kafka, but as I’ve only read The Metamorphosis, I feel I cannot be a good judge for this.)

This book, on the other hand, is horrendously ugly. It zooms into the sides of us we don’t wish to see. It zooms into the irk and evil in hearts of pristine-looking people. It zooms into the dirt and grime in your hair, on your cheeks, on your skin. It talks about the history of a people who seem to be trying to prove something, while not moving an inch at all. It’s horrifying, just looking at the web of violence within and without, the violence done with, by and for the people.

This is a great book for reminiscing, although try not to turn your head on the parts that could pain your soul (as there are many). If you are up for the challenge, come, let’s go hand-in-hand with Adrian, Eliza and Anna, as they look back into their pasts and dance their lives away in the present. The future can wait, at least until after the Festival.
Profile Image for Joe.
Author 18 books80 followers
November 24, 2007
Rosca's prose can be balletic, frenzied even. But a brilliant start to the novel is completely subverted by a 200 page exploration of one of the main characters' blood lines. The final 80 or so pages, which return us to the action proper fails to both regain its momentum and to capitalize much on the back story provided. In the end, trying to cover too much ground, to speak to too much of the history of the Philippines, the overall design of the novel is unfortunately hectic. Read the tremendous first section then proceed at your own risk.
Profile Image for Tito Quiling, Jr..
245 reviews38 followers
April 29, 2013
We've been told to read this novel back in college but I never had the chance and the interest to purchase a copy.

And I regret not reading State of War by Ninotchka Rosca earlier. The book is divided into three chapters -- The Book of Acts, the Book of Numbers, and the Book of Revelations. Among the three, I particularly liked the second half. State of War is a story about three characters: Adrian, Anna, and Eliza, whose lives are inherently intertwined because of their ancestors' history.

Inevitably, the novel is also an account of the genealogy of the islands' inhabitants, zeroing in on the triumvirate -- from their Pre-Hispanic roots, to the colonization of the Spanish empire, until the Americans came to the archipelago. I found the first chapter a bit dragging and the third part, disengaging, but perhaps, the second one holds the entire novel together. Among the three, the Book of Numbers is the most significant chapter as it unravels the history of the characters involved and how each of their families have, in one way or another, affected the lives that they have at the moment. The chapter is beautifully woven, and one might feel that the characters in the said part are long-forgotten relatives that are buried in our grandparents' memories.

The problem with writing history almost always points to the viewpoint presented in an account. Mostly, it is from the victor's point of view which means that the uninhibited ones sometimes do not see the light of the day, and resort to being thrown away, only to be discovered by accident. What one would find in the book are non-traditional depiction of historical personalities, who are portrayed as overly-religious, immensely clean and pious people. The opposite of those qualities are depicted fairly which makes the characters even more human because of what they have committed.

Although not everyone who reads this might like or agree with what is inside, one would have to give this novel a quick read if you're interested in scandals and more importantly, history.

Profile Image for rina.
202 reviews27 followers
September 6, 2021
State of War started off really strong, I was captivated by the writing. The descriptions were vivid and the characters were well-constructed; the storytelling reminded me of Isabel Allende's A Long Petal of the Sea. The beginning of the book introduces three characters: Adrian Banyaga, Eliza Hansen, and Anna Villaverde. They are prominent characters, though their page-time wasn't the longest. Divided into three chapters/sections: the second chapter, the Book of Numbers, takes up the biggest portion of the book, spanning the Spanish, American, and Japanese occupation in the Philippines until the Marcos era. It is also the richest in history and culture. My enjoyment levels of this portion went up and down a lot due to the characters and their actions, I guess I was just more interested in Adrian, Eliza, and Anna and this was a break in the momentum. There's magical realism incorporated into the story as well but in my case this made things a bit confusing and took me quite a while to wrap my head around. Despite these, I still thought this book was well-written, emotional, and thought-provoking; extremely symbolic. A must-read for Filipinos.
81 reviews1 follower
July 31, 2008
"She lost all consciousness of who or where she was, knowing only that this would be the biggest, the best in her life, that henceforth she would suffer if he were not in her, beside her, on her, under her, holy mother of God who must have known the same pleasure once, forgive her."
Profile Image for chantalcovarrubias.
47 reviews18 followers
July 4, 2021
This book has been parked on my shelf since my friend loaned me her copy a couple of years ago. At the time, I wasn't able to see the book through - it's the kind that requires careful attention, otherwise you'll miss certain details in the foreshadowing that will make sense in the third and final part, The Book of Revelations.

Philippine historical fiction is my top favorite genre and I'm honestly annoyed at myself for not having read this novel sooner when it's so gripping and illuminating. Of course the author added her own twists and turns to the events that did take place during the Spanish rule, WWII, the Japanese occupation, and Marcos dictatorship but I still find that the best way to remember our past is through stories such as this.

State of War revisits our colonial past and unveils the hodge-podge that is the Filipino identity. Through the stories of Anna's ancestors, as told in the The Book of Numbers, interwoven with those of Adrian and Eliza's, we trace the many cultural and sociopolitical changes that our country has undergone at the hands of our foreign oppressors - shaping it into the Philippines we know today.

What struck me most was Luis Carlos' journey in the resistance and how it's always been peasants who have liberated our country despite - or perhaps, because of - their marginalized state. It's absurd how the ruling elite will yap about independence and freedom when they have always been complicit in the suffering of our people (exhibit A: Laurel's puppet government). In the end, the same guerrilla movement that shed blood to gain our freedom was betrayed by the white man, proving once again that we are in a constant state of war - the facies of our enemies just change. To this day, we remain victim to U.S. imperialism.

Speaking about the present, Ninotchka Rosca's prose is as timely as ever. This is the same plea 0f my generation:

...God, if there's one, don't let all of us die (the house! the house!), allow one to survive and wear down the eternity of the dictator; if he lives to a hundred, let us last a hundred and ten, long enough to spit on his grave and drown his corpse in the lagoon of our contempt; if he lives to two hundred, let us survive two hundred and ten, just long enough to fertilize the gardens with the shit of his memory; and if he's thinking of living through his sons' sons, allow us to outlive them all, just for the pleasure of being alive when he dies, before we bury them in the amnesia of our relief at his passing.

This is a must-read for all Filipinos.

(My ex said it's required reading in Ateneo and I hope more universities and schools add this in their syllabus.)

Profile Image for Bryan Thomas Schmidt.
Author 49 books151 followers
March 21, 2022
Truly an astonishing novel. So well written with such interesting characters and seamlessly interwoven history. Truly a must read for those from the Philippines and interested in the Philippines as well as history. Highly recommended
Profile Image for sophia.
12 reviews
February 14, 2023
Ninotchka Rosca’s State of War focuses on the Philippines and its cyclical history which demands rehabilitation. Through constant government audit, manipulation of language and historical amnesia, Filipinos are perpetually in a state of repression that prevents them from political action (both from foreign and native oppressors). They have forgotten their past and continue to make the same mistakes as their ancestors. Anna, who serves as a vessel for historical memory in the novel, was named by her father who had wanted her name, starting with an A, to symbolize new beginnings after undergoing political turmoil. Much like the nation in which she was born, her name both starts and ends with a beginning.
Profile Image for Paeng.
30 reviews
September 29, 2020
It was morning when the Spanish long boats sailed from Mactan to Cebu.

As someone who favored Filipino literature written in the English language, I gravitated to authors like Arlene J. Chai during my high school days. Thus, when I saw this book, I was really hooked to dive straight into it. And yes, it did not disappoint.

In her first novel, State of War, Ninotchka Rosca creates an encompassing account of glimpses of Philippine history interspersed with the stories of her carefully crafted characters. In this account, Rosca embraces the insecurities of the Filipino—that our history is not of the native Malays, the Spaniards, the Americans, or the Chinese— it was all of them blended together with 400 years of colonial rule and war. By following a multigenerational story of one family, Rosca depicts how this mixed race was formed by both love and lust.

Rosca also weaves this multigenerational story with the Marcos regime, and how the previous world wars (WW1 and WW2) seemingly continue into the 1970s and 1980s in the Philippines. Rosca embeds the Filipino sense of destiny as her male protagonist and his daughter continue to hear the "bells"—signals that guide the characters about the decisions they make in their lives. I love how these bells guided Luis Carlos throughout his tenure as a guerilla in the Luzon highlands, and how it also somewhat signaled Anna about the tragedy that's about to take place. The author also couples the "bells" with numerous tidbits of pamahiin, showing how Filipinos are superstitious folds by nature.

Lastly, I appreciate how the story is centered around 'family'. Rosca portrays the Filipino in the most simple way possible, For the Filipino, the family is the starting point for everything. It serves as the starting point for one's values formation while also providing the path to one's future based on the status of their family in society. Rosca showed how Filipinos heavily value this atomic unit of society as she showered the Villaverde family with countless blessings and misfortunes one generation to another starting from the end of the Spanish rule to the Japanese occupation during WW2. Rosca further emphasizes the concept of family by focusing on the sense of hope that newborns provide their mothers as they start their journey in this world. This feeling was evoked for the three prominent women in the Villaverde family—Maya, Mayang, and Anna. Through family, the Philippines is indeed a country of beginnings.

Profile Image for Levi.
110 reviews20 followers
October 13, 2015
The first part (Book of Acts) of this sort-of historical novel bored me. It was about three young people, leading different lives, attending a festival amid an ongoing dictatorship. Yet the second part (Book of Numbers) blew me away. Rosca displayed her deft narrative skills, pulling off something like a 100 Years of Solitude type of awesomeness. The final part is not satisfying, but still the book is great. Sorry for my post-reading incoherence.
Profile Image for Camille Joyce L.
41 reviews
January 27, 2021
4/5, Ninotchka is undoubtedly one of the best Filipino writers. She has the eloquence, the gift of prose, the witting eye for details of our local culture and history. But her paragraphs are TOO WORDY. You can easily get lost in the plot over the persnickety of her details. "What, wait, where am I?" In her own words, the novel is discombobulating! It was well-written, however. :)
Profile Image for Dana.
695 reviews22 followers
Shelved as 'did-not-finish'
January 31, 2022
I've decided to stop reading this book. I did a little research about the author and I've seen that she may be linked to the TERF people. I have no patience for that. I thought the involvement of a transvestite in the novel was a little strange so that combined with this possibility is enough for me to stop reading. I'm not interested in dealing with that possible baggage.
Profile Image for Ross.
56 reviews1 follower
September 6, 2021
Overall, I think this is a really complex and interesting novel with so many repercussions of Filipino literature and history. There is so much to discuss, from its form to its characters to its events. It's a chaotic blend of so much of what makes Filipino life so complex, beautiful, and painful.

I appreciate the unorthodox form of the book, with an in-medias-res and messy beginning, a flowing, historical middle, and a jump back into the present at the end. It served its purpose in getting the reader lost in the chaos of what it is like to live as a Filipino in the times of neverending war. This appreciation was only formed in hindsight: while reading it, I didn't find the chaos enjoyable (but maybe it was never meant to be enjoyable anyway.)

Personally, I find it to be a bit lacking in focus as a whole. I wish there was a clearer perspective on whose story we were following, or a more even distribution of the events in the history of each family of the three main characters. The first book made me think that the rest of the book would move in and out of the perspectives and histories of all three main characters, but the second book was so heavily about Anna's main lineage, mentioning Adrian and Eliza's now and then. I didn't feel like they all came from the same family per se. I think there is so much richness in the stories of the Banyagas particularly as well, and would have wanted more insight on their history instead of a passing narrative. I think the impact of the chaos of the story was lost on me because of how scattered I felt while reading it.

Then again, I think I may have read it at the wrong time in my life (was very distracted by personal life events while reading this), or maybe my reading comprehension was just really challenged! Haha. This is really just my personal opinion on this.

Would recommend this hesitantly because of how difficult I found it but also because I've read that Rosca is a TERF. I understand its importance around Filipino literature and history, but I do think the impact of how she writes dismissively about transpeople is important to highlight.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for upʞ.
24 reviews3 followers
December 15, 2020
Wow. The Book of Numbers is a real treasure. I'm most certain that this novel would be praised a hundredfold more if such part was let to stand alone on its own. This is definitely one of the best literary texts in English by a Filipina author.
Ninotchka Rosca's quality of prose is just so great I don't even have enough words to describe it in a few lines. She offers like that of an edifice intricately architected inside and out, or of an ornate fabric delicately woven by a great seamstress — it emits an enchanting aura the more you delve into her words and their placements.
She's also a one woman army dropping a ton load of truth bombs about World War II and the Marcos conjugal dictatorship. The novel is also a great fictional rundown of the Philippine history, offering the inter-generational dialogue which clarifies the details on the vague period during the transition between the colonial Spanish Philippines and the American Philippines up to the recent times.
Surely, this novel is a task for the impatient or a discontent for the expectant, but this shall still go down as one of the greatest.
Profile Image for Jennifer Pletcher.
795 reviews4 followers
October 31, 2020
This book opens during a festival in the Phillippines with three young people - Eliza, Anna, and Adrian. Adrian is rich and the son of a prominent family. Anna is a widow who was recently detained and tortured by the military. And Eliza is the daughter of a courtesan. As the festival is going on - so is a war. Anna gets in contact with the rebels who are planning to bomb the festival and Adrian is captured.

The book jumps to the past of these three families to trace the history of Adrian's family money, and that Eliza is a relative of Anna's. weaving together their stories, the final part of the book brings us back to the present and lead up to what happens with the war and the rebels.

This is an okay book. Quite confusing. I think the middle part - the history - was my favorite. It took me awhile to get into this one and it actually required a lot of attention to keep me reading. It had some redeeming qualities. Like I said - the history in the middle of this book is the longest section and the most interesting in my opinion.
Profile Image for Lois Tanglao.
15 reviews
August 12, 2021

tw: torture

I have no words for this book. What's beautiful about it is that Rosca didn't hold back when describing everything from chaos to war to torture. Everything was so vivid that I actually felt like I was experiencing what the characters were experiencing. I felt their pain, their grief, their pleasure, and everything in between. Something else is that a large part of the book is actually dedicated to talking about the ancestries of the three main characters, which gives a really good insight as to where they came from and how they became the way that they are.

It's definitely not an easy read because of the ambiguity of the writing style—you can't easily tell whether something's really happening or if it's just a metaphor. I actually think I'll have to read it again to fully grasp the meaning of the book. Nevertheless, this book didn't fail to make me empathize with its characters and take a peek into their colorful but dark lives during the martial law era.
Profile Image for Jennifer.
122 reviews2 followers
July 12, 2020
It is true, Rosca's writing style though heavy is beautiful, rich and full of imagery, longing and memory. It was eye opening for me to learn about civilian torture under the reign of Marcos and learning more about guerilla warfare. The novel has two stories: one that spans the Spanish, American, and Japanese occupied periods, the other more present history during the Marcos regime. I enjoyed both but have to admit breaking up the stories as she did made a rather halting experience, and I would have enjoyed the book more had she kept the first part more continuous. By the time we returned to the first story line I didn't care anymore and just wanted the book to end.

It was a heavy book. The story pulls you in. At times it gets a bit slow and her writing style can weigh the reader down. But in general I am glad I read it. What I did like was enjoyable and informative. 3.5 stars.
Profile Image for Bianca Nagac.
64 reviews5 followers
June 25, 2019
The depth of this book needs the reader to free up the mind from biases to absorb the writer's point of view. Roska has a keen eye to details when it comes to showing the significant transitions during the Spanish, American, Japanese and Martial Law Era. On a personal note, I think the Martial Law issue is too cliché that we often hear and see one to two sides of stories. It is time for us to free up ourselves from biases like this. And how do we do that? I think that's for future readers to find out.
Profile Image for Jacqie.
1,611 reviews74 followers
February 4, 2019
I'm trying to learn a bit more about the Philippines through fiction and started here.

I have a feeling that a lot of people will love this novel, but not me. The style is strongly magical realism, and that is not my thing. The language is beautiful and dreamlike. But it's too dreamy for me to really get my head around what was going on in the Philippines in the 80's. Not for me, but you may like it.
Profile Image for Victoria.
62 reviews
March 7, 2020
What a book. Though, I'm quite sure that not all would be too fond of how it was written. It was quite difficult to get accustomed to, especially in the first few chapters. But beyond that, it was a very interesting read, a quick rundown of the country's history from dealing with foreign colonizers until we ourselves are fighting each other.

Profile Image for Tobi.
17 reviews
July 31, 2022
This is a very difficult book to read for someone who is not a voracious reader. I should've checked the reviews here first because this book tired me out. Exciting at some parts but had to force myself to read it towards the end.
1 review
February 5, 2023
A beautifully crafted book, a dark humorous depiction of the past of the Philippines. A must read book, it does not only vividly describes the Philippines back then, it also offers you a clear, an eye opener story of the Filipinos.
Profile Image for Vernie Market.
2 reviews
June 19, 2020
Such historical prose and manner of writing has pulled at my heart, making me feel both hopeful and hopeless with the state of things in this country.
Profile Image for Frances De Guzman.
113 reviews4 followers
September 4, 2021
4 Let me start off by saying the minus points is because it confused me more that I thought it would, but overall I really liked this book. The book, for me, is hopeful for my generation, a generation born without war. After four hundred years of war in the Philippines, how does it affect how we experience living? Do we even "live" in a state of war? The ending really solidified the idea to me and I don't think I would have liked it if it didn't end this way. The book places emphasis in remembering our history, a lot of the answers we wanted lay in the past. The thought of forgetting the past is not the way to the beginning. I think she solidifies this by narrating the past as the plot happens in the present.

Something Rosca constantly repeats is how we are a country of beginnings, but no endings. I think that sentiment still rings true today. We like to find new horizons, we love the grass is greener on the other side sentiments, but how do we end? How do we close a chapter in our history? We don't, it continues to find new beginnings but we still hope for salvation. The endeavour towards the hope of a new beginning is not painted in a foolish life, but in such a reflective way. Time passes.

While I was hesitant to compare it to the House of the Spirits, as a lot of people tend to when they talk about magical realism, I think this book is good to read if you really loved the House of the Spirits.

EDIT: just found out that the author has been saying some transphobic shit, and I don’t feel comfortable recommending her books.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Displaying 1 - 30 of 48 reviews

Can't find what you're looking for?

Get help and learn more about the design.