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3.60  ·  Rating details ·  2,201 ratings  ·  170 reviews
Welcome to Manila in the turbulent period of the Philippines' late dictator. It is a world in which American pop culture and local Filipino tradition mix flamboyantly, and gossip, storytelling, and extravagant behavior thrive.

A wildly disparate group of characters--from movie stars to waiters, from a young junkie to the richest man in the Philippines--becomes caught up in
Paperback, 272 pages
Published July 1st 1991 by Penguin Books (first published 1990)
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Average rating 3.60  · 
Rating details
 ·  2,201 ratings  ·  170 reviews

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~✡~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
Jim Fonseca
Sep 13, 2015 rated it really liked it
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
K.D. Absolutely
Dec 01, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  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
robin friedman
Dec 15, 2020 rated it really liked it
An American Novel Of The Philippines

"Dogeaters" (1990), the first novel of Jessica Hagedorn, was nominated for the National Book Award. Hagedorn (b. 1949) was born in Manilla and moved to the United States in 1963. She is a poet as well as a novelist; in 1998, she also transformed "Dogeaters" into a play. I became interested in this book because I hadn't read any other novels set in the Philippines.

The novel is set in Manilla from the mid 1950s through early 1960s. It is of the middling length o
Dec 28, 2010 rated it really liked it
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
Sep 03, 2012 rated it really liked it
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
Feb 28, 2011 added it
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
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
May 28, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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! ...more
Jan 23, 2015 rated it liked it
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
Jun 15, 2007 rated it liked it
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
Aug 20, 2007 rated it liked it
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. ...more
Aug 26, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: filipino-authors
Set in Manila, Philippines, under the dictatorship of the Marcos administration, Jessica Hagedorn’s DOGEATERS explores the lives of the rich, the poor, and the depraved. By using bits and pieces of what’s considered *official* (newspapers, history books) and *unofficial* (gossip, celebrity talk shows) information, Jessica Hagedorn unpacks many heavy topics. How the Philippines is portrayed by its colonizers (Spanish & American) to justify colonization. The toxic aftereffects of colonization. How ...more
Aug 24, 2010 rated it liked it
Recommended to Dusty by: Julia Lee
Shelves: read-in-2010
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
May 29, 2008 rated it liked it
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
Jennifer Wallace
Mar 05, 2011 rated it it was ok
Shelves: school-books
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
Bob Newman
Dec 25, 2017 rated it really liked it
I Wanna B U

People condemned colonialism as being the exploitation of one country by another. The dominant power sucked the resources out of the weaker one, paying only a little back in terms of some technology and a semblance of law and order. But I think now we have realized that that economic bloodsucking was only one of the evils of the imperial experience. More subtle, but maybe longer lasting, was the degrading of the self among the dominated. The ruled felt powerless, they felt their whole
Kloyde Caday
Apr 10, 2020 rated it liked it
This is the first book I read in March 2020, and I somehow found it hard to finish due to a lot of tasks and the anxiety brought about by the pandemic.
Undoubtedly, Hagedorn rendered the lyricism and the kaleidoscopic events very well. A staple reading on postcolonial literature, it has depicted the Americanization of the Filipinos by showing the colonizers’ influence that may appear innocuous at first: US films, materialism, small talks, inferiority complex, colonial mentality, Western beauty st
Nick Klagge
Nov 12, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: filipino
From 1990, this is a precursor to a lot of today's Filipino-American writing. The book follows several different characters in Marcos-era Manila, ranging across the class spectrum. It's similar in style (as my wife pointed out) to Tommy Orange's "There There", following an almost overwhelming number of different characters, whose stories ultimately come together loosely. This approach, while distracting at times, does effectively combat mainstream American culture's tendency to create a monolith ...more
Jul 20, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Jessica Hagedorn’s portrait of the Philippines in the late 1950s during the Marcos era is kaleidoscopic and fragmented but succeeds in bringing the time and place to life in a way that a more linear narrative might have failed to do. It comprises a series of vignettes or short stories rather than a sustained storyline, with a large cast of characters from the richest to the poorest and most humble. What binds them all together is their attempt to live their lives under a repressive, corrupt and ...more
Mar 25, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-in-2015
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 fo
Apr 03, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: loathed, 1990s
Didn't enjoy it, and I don't want to waste another moment. Life is too short to be miserable with a book. DNF halfway through. It was too scattered, no specific style. Just seemed like journal entries strewn together and out of order.
moving right along now.
Apr 18, 2017 rated it did not like it
Probably the most boring book I have ever read in my life. It also doesn't help that the book employs a post-modern feel that feels rather pretentious than literary for me. ...more
Jenny Mckeel
Oct 20, 2007 rated it liked it
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
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
Mar 24, 2011 rated it liked it
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
Apr 24, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Ma. Lalaine
Oct 29, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jenina Yutuc
Nov 25, 2015 rated it really liked it
“You’re going to hell for sure — you made the Iron Butterfly break down and cry.”

Reading Dogeaters was much better during this second read! It’s been four years since I *tried* to “read” it: I was 18 in my childhood room in Pampanga (I admit that I read it only looking for comforting sentences about love).

The line that I highlighted in 2016 in pink:
“They are both in love with other people, but he is compelled by her beauty and amused by her bluntness.”

There is no finality, no clear resolve in
Laura 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
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Goodreads Librari...: Separate titles 2 14 May 11, 2020 12:39AM  
Literary Fiction ...: Marlon James Picks "Dogeaters" For WSJ Book Club 5 42 Feb 05, 2015 12:28PM  
500 Great Books B...: Dogeaters - Jessica Hagedorn 1 12 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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