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Dusk (Rosales Saga, #1)
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Asia and Down Under 2015 > PHILIPPINES: DUSK by F. Sionil José

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message 1: by Betty (last edited Apr 27, 2015 08:18PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Betty Asma (everydayabook) | 3614 comments Dusk by F. Sionil José is the sort of saga one can't put down or only with reluctance. It's one of five set in the Philippines around the time of the liberation from Spain and the Spanish-American war. Takes place around the rural village of Po-on and begins with a farm family, one of whose sons Eustaquio, familiarly Istak, now about twenty years old, has been away from home, serving as an sacristan for Padre Jose and being educated by him. At the the beginning of the story, two events conspire to destabilize the Catholic family who are tenant farmers--the arrival of a young immoral priest to take old Padre Jose's position and that of an attractive just-widowed girl Dalin. A word glossary in the back.


message 2: by [deleted user] (new)

Found this to be a gripping work and interesting in many ways. On the topic of the Philippine-American War, I'd previously read and appreciated Mark Twain and much admired the greatly under-appreciated American Tolstoyan's Ernest Crosby's scathing satire Captain Jinks: Hero so getting the oppressed's perspective was unexpectedly rewarding especially the somewhat ambiguous ending. Oppressor-oppressed narratives can become oppressively tedious but I was pleased that this brought more to the table than the usual. Also found interesting, again, and here I am my usual tedious self, the literary parallels. Somebody could write a dissertation (and one probably already has) on novels in which wagons are lost at river crossings (Faulkner's As I Lay Dying) is the one the seemed most immediate to me) and journeys on which parents die and are buried (The Grapes of Wrath reference here?). I suppose the historical context of this novel offers some hope for humanity's ability to overcome history as Philippines-US relations appear to become grown into a mutually-beneficial status (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Philippi... ).


Betty Asma (everydayabook) | 3614 comments Don wrote: "Found this to be a gripping work and interesting in many ways. On the topic of the Philippine-American War, I'd previously read and appreciated Mark Twain and much admired the greatly under-appreci..."

Thank you, Don, for that perceptive, humorous post on what the stories in great literature share. It also points to the fact of your wide reading.

About Dusk, it's an absorbing book. The family's careful journey, the unexpected development in characters, and the historical conditions in the Philippines of the latter nineteenth century make for a "saga". Informative in the preface pages was the composition of the five novels in the Rosales saga. As you recall, Dusk is the earliest chronologically but the last written. It took the author thirty years to write it, I think it said.


Betty Asma (everydayabook) | 3614 comments The book's midsection takes a new turn from its opening in Po-On. The Salvador family (now renamed Samson) finds a decade of safety and prosperity in farming a new region. The wise, young woman Dalin, becomes essential to the family's survival. The educated m.c. Istak (Eustaquio) becomes a teacher, an effective healer, and a farmer until a sense of duty and of fate compel him to aid the revolutionary cause for the colony's independence.


message 5: by Betty (last edited May 10, 2015 05:20PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Betty Asma (everydayabook) | 3614 comments Sionil José's historical novel is told from the perspective of an educated farmer, healer, teacher Istak. His arduous, secure farm life in the village of Rosales has been built up because the family has evaded the reaches of the suddenly avaricious, longtime colonial government, now exploiting the settled farmers. In the background of the story is the shadow of Spanish and American global history in the late nineteenth century and that history's effect upon the Philippines: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_... from Spanish rule through Philippine Revolution and Philippine-American War.

A Question--
Did Istak make the right choice at book's end?

[Edit] What's your opinion about the end of this novel?


message 6: by [deleted user] (new)

Asma Fedosia wrote: "Sionil José's historical novel is told from the perspective of an educated farmer, healer, teacher Istak. His arduous, secure farm life in the village of Rosales has been built up because the famil..."

Now that is the question, isn't it? Giving up his lifelong commitment to peace in favor of the cause, however just, appears morally ambiguous to me.


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