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But for the Lovers

3.74  ·  Rating details ·  42 ratings  ·  11 reviews
In the 25 years since its original publication, But for the Lovers has acquired an underground reputation as one of the most remarkable novels about World War II, doing for the Pacific war theater what Joseph Heller's Catch-22 did for the European one. Set in the Philippines, But for the Lovers depicts the survival of a cross-section of Filipinos during the Japanese Occupa ...more
Paperback, 316 pages
Published November 1st 1994 by Dalkey Archive Press (first published 1970)
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The postcolonial is perverse*, according to the Filipino critic J. Neil C. Garcia. But why stop there? The postcolonial is grotesque, is disgusting, is radical, is transgressive. The postcolonial is a product of colonial wars, of wars inglorious. It is blasphemous; it is bestial.

Just like But for the Lovers, the only full length novel published by Wilfrido D. Nolledo (1933-2004) in his lifetime. This novel blatantly wears the sleeve of postcoloniality and postmodernity. It is a (diffi)cult book.
Jul 30, 2007 rated it really liked it
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Seamus Duggan
Mar 14, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Seamus by: Rise
But For the Lovers has a large sprawling cast of characters; sexual obsession; brutality; religion; beauty; the horror of war; low comedy and high seriousness. The language is enlivened by the use of slang, tagalog and Spanish. Indeed, it has much to say on the politics and evolving history of identity. This is a novel that deserves wider recognition and more readers. Published in 1970 to some high praise (Robert Coover writes a fanboy's foreword in the Dalkey Archive edition I have) but general ...more
Jul 30, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Everyone.
Shelves: novels
Brilliant, brilliant novel by the late Fil Am writer Wilfrido Nolledo. Thank you, Dalkey Archive, for recovering this lost book. A big influence on my work, my life. Share in the love, and pick up this book.
Chris Wharton
A flamboyant, colorful rendering of the waning months of World War II in Manila, where a rich assortment of local characters—many residents of a particular boarding house (one an aging descendant of the corrupt and nearly vanished Spanish colonial heritage, another a street urchin named Amoran for whom the boarding house is the base of his scavenging operations)—negotiate a chaotic existence under the brutal Japanese occupation as American planes bomb the city and the US ground invasion approach ...more
Neil Ruddy
Willie is a genius.
Nicole Tantoco
Feb 22, 2010 rated it really liked it
the plot is a little dense but the language is amazing! there are also some of the most memorable characters i've ever witnessed in Filipino fiction such as the lecherous matron, Tira Colombo and the Messianic Captain John Winters. an intensely poetic alternative history. my only problem is that the ending is sort of anti-climatic. no real closure for Alma, the star of the novel ...more
Jul 14, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: books
It is not hard to see that Nolledo is a genius author, and that this book is very much a testament of this fact. However his brilliance and ability with words does not do enough to make up for the mediocre plot of his novel. Though filled with impactful imagery and set pieces, they are dwarfed by the many stretches of boring occurrences.
Jun 19, 2010 rated it liked it
Set in the Philippines during World War II, this book is a complex but compelling book on war, survival and freedom. Certainly not an easy read but definitely worth finishing.
Sheena Sapolmo
Nov 02, 2014 rated it it was amazing
May 06, 2008 rated it really liked it
Numbed by war, characters live out their own annihilations. Impressionistic prose, messy surrealism, discomforting imagery. Maps out the human mind in occupation.
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Filipino-American fictionist, playwright, essayist, and editor was once referred to by Nick Joaquin, Philippine National Artist, as a "young magus" who turned the Philippine war experience into a poem, referring to "But For the Lovers," the novel that brought Nolledo to the attention of publisher, E.B. Hutton.

In 1965, he was a Fulbright scholar at Iowa Writers Workshop; from then on, he was at the

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