Ilustrado by Miguel Syjuco
A Novel

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Garnering international prizes and acclaim before its publication, Ilustrado has been called “brilliantly conceived and stylishly executed . . .It is also ceaselessly entertaining, frequently raunchy, and effervescent with humor” (2008 Man Asian Literary Prize panel of judges).

It begins with a body. On a clear day in winter, the battered corpse of Crispin Salvador is pulled from the Hudson River—taken from the world is the controversial lion of Philippine literature. Gone, too, is the only manuscript of his final book, a work meant to rescue him from obscurity by exposing the crimes of the Filipino ruling families. Miguel, his student and only remaining friend, sets out for Manila to investigate.

To understand the death, Miguel scours the life, piecing together Salvador’s story through his poetry, interviews, novels, polemics, and memoirs. The result is a rich and dramatic family saga of four generations, tracing 150 years of Philippine history forged under the Spanish, the Americans, and the Filipinos themselves. Finally, we are surprised to learn that this story belongs to young Miguel as much as to his lost mentor, and we are treated to an unhindered view of a society caught between reckless decay and hopeful progress.

Exuberant and wise, wildly funny and deeply moving, Ilustrado explores the hidden truths that haunt every family. It is a daring and inventive debut by a new writer of astonishing talent.


About Miguel Syjuco

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Miguel Syjuco received the 2008 Man Asian Literary Prize and the Philippines' highest literary honor, the Palanca Award, for the unpublished manuscript of Ilustrado. Born and raised in Manila, he currently lives in Montreal.
Published April 14, 2010 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux. 319 pages
Genres: History, Literature & Fiction. Fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for Ilustrado

The New York Times

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An author in exile dies mysteriously in New York in this novel of the Philippines, which won the Man Asian Literary Prize in 2008.

Jun 11 2010 | Read Full Review of Ilustrado: A Novel

National Post

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llustradoBy Miguel SyjucoHamish Hamilton256 pp.; $34 Reviewed by Randy Boyagoda Yann Martel and his tragic, furry friends have undoubtedly been the main course of the spring books season. When this savaging is over, those book critics still hungry will no doubt next try to carve up Montreal write...

May 08 2010 | Read Full Review of Ilustrado: A Novel

The Washington Post

opened him to rumors of homosexuality, yet he was criticized for being a womanizer 'with the lascivious energy usually found in defrocked clergymen.' And he could never live down his 1991 TV commercial which showed him being served lunch in a book-lined study, shaking a cruet over his food before...

May 06 2010 | Read Full Review of Ilustrado: A Novel

The Bookbag

There is the narrator's story, extracts from his biography of Salvador, extracts of Salvador's writings, blogs by a Filipino literary critic, a series of Filipino jokes, extracts from an interview with Salvador and, most confusing of all, meta-narrative that comments on the narrator's actions.

Jul 08 2010 | Read Full Review of Ilustrado: A Novel

Dallas News

By ROBERTO ONTIVEROS / Special Contributor to The Dallas Morning News Roberto Ontiveros has published fiction in the Threepenny Review, the Santa Monica Review and the anthology Hecho en Tejas.

Jun 27 2010 | Read Full Review of Ilustrado: A Novel

Having been a student of Salvador at the University of Columbia – both voluntary exiles from their native Manila – Miguel knows that Salvador had been working on his literary pice de rsistance, The Bridges Ablaze, and that the manuscript has vanished since his mentor's death.

Jun 18 2010 | Read Full Review of Ilustrado: A Novel

MostlyFiction Book Reviews

At yet another time, he gets this counsel: “Take Mr. Auden’s advice: Be like some valley cheese, local but prized everywhere.” It is hard to gauge which piece of advice Miguel Syjuco seems to be going with in Ilustrado.

May 17 2010 | Read Full Review of Ilustrado: A Novel

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