Insurrecto

Insurrecto

Histories and personalities collide in this literary tour-de-force about the Philippines' present and America's past by the PEN Open Book Award–winning author of Gun Dealer's Daughter.Two women, a Filipino translator and an American filmmaker, go on a road trip in Duterte’s Philippines, collaborating and clashing in the writing of a film script about a massacre during the...

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Title:Insurrecto
Author:Gina Apostol
Rating:
Edition Language:English

Insurrecto Reviews

  • Gabe

    One of the best novels of the year.

  • Eugene

    A polymath's lyricism is woven with post-colonial tristesse. A deft and labyrinthine depiction of our helpless condition of ever-revolving insurrection, Gina Apostol has created an elegant mise en abyme wherein the colonizer and the colonized reflect themselves over and over and yet over again.

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    i found this site quite helpful :

    and

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    : found this passage in

    A polymath's lyricism is woven with post-colonial tristesse. A deft and labyrinthine depiction of our helpless condition of ever-revolving insurrection, Gina Apostol has created an elegant mise en abyme wherein the colonizer and the colonized reflect themselves over and over and yet over again.

    _________________

    i found this site quite helpful :

    and

    _________________

    : found this passage in apostol's also excellent

    (which serves as good intro/sequel/commentary) for INSURRECTO:

  • Miranda Hency

    So complex and mind-boggling and incredibly meta, but so so worth it at the end.

  • Sam Shaw

    From the PEN Open Book Award-winning author of Gun Dealers’ Daughter, Gina Apostol, comes Insurrecto, a haunting tribute to America’s past and present for the people of the Philippines. Woven between the parallel storylines of Filipino translator Magsalin and American filmmaker Chiara emerges a brilliant narrative. While Chiara works on a film script about a massacre during the Philippine-American War in 1901, the reader gets an understanding of the cruelty of the American general and his garris

    From the PEN Open Book Award-winning author of Gun Dealers’ Daughter, Gina Apostol, comes Insurrecto, a haunting tribute to America’s past and present for the people of the Philippines. Woven between the parallel storylines of Filipino translator Magsalin and American filmmaker Chiara emerges a brilliant narrative. While Chiara works on a film script about a massacre during the Philippine-American War in 1901, the reader gets an understanding of the cruelty of the American general and his garrison. The two made the countryside into a “howling wilderness” by killing all men in Balangiga, Samar who were old enough to hold a gun. The literary work Apostol puts together combines Chiara’s script writing process and the translator Magsalin’s choice to rewrite Chaira’s script.

    With her wandering narrative voice, Apostol expertly weaves a tapestry of tragedy for her readers. In and among the creation of the twin scripts, the dramatic action of each of the lives of the two women informs the context within which they each choose to create. Chiara writes because that is what she knows. When her filmmaker father abandoned her and her mother, the only way she could connect with herself, and by extension him, was to make art. Apostol writes, “...she never went back to his films. She made her own. Art is her asylum.”

    On the other hand, Magsalin’s life is framed by her mother’s death. After her mother passed away, she left the Philippines in search of something else. She spends her time traveling, translating and exploring New York City. So, when she sees an email that asks for a translator to accompany Chiara back to her home, she hesitantly accepts.

    Clearly, the whorled tales of the women inform the action on each and every page. In search of truth, these artists, writers, mothers, daughters, and revolutionaries set out to explore their futures. Like the scars of the Philippine-American War, their pasts have left them with considerable challenges. These brave warrior-women, however, dive into the next chapter of their lives. The reader watches as they advance upon the unknown.

    The back of the book claims, “Apostol pushes up against the limits of fiction in order to recover the atrocity in Balangiga, and in so doing, she shows us the dark heart of an untold and forgotten war that would shape the next century of Philippine and American history.” To read the twists and turns of this fictional tale, one must be prepared to think deeply about the author’s allusions and wandering musings because she keeps this “dark heart” alive through crafty language and highly intentional prose lyrics. Yes, she pushes the limits of fiction, but she does so with eloquence and purpose. The stories she shares sing in concert a ballad of heartache and healing.

    This book is for those of us who revel in the question “why?” It is for the readers who crave explanation and honesty, who need the discovery of truth as though it is their lifeblood. Insurrecto serves as a vehicle for the curious to probe what is presented as the truth and pull it apart. It is for the archaeologists who dig beneath the surface in pursuit of something new. Gina Apostol presents the reader with a boundary-pushing narrative which allows each of us the space to ask ourselves “where does truth fit into my own narrative?”

  • Marchpane

    Towards the beginning of

    there is a reference to

    , an early 20th century artwork inspired by stop-motion photography, which depicts a figure in motion using overlapping abstract forms. This is a clue (one of many) to the book’s approach: if

    was a painting it would be a cubist one, the narrative broken apart and reassembled in highly stylised, abstract, dimensional form. It is disorienting at fi

    Towards the beginning of

    there is a reference to

    , an early 20th century artwork inspired by stop-motion photography, which depicts a figure in motion using overlapping abstract forms. This is a clue (one of many) to the book’s approach: if

    was a painting it would be a cubist one, the narrative broken apart and reassembled in highly stylised, abstract, dimensional form. It is disorienting at first but starts to make sense the longer you stare at it.

    So, this is a pretty confusing novel. I would not call it ‘difficult’ but it does require attention – this is not the sort of book you can just zone out to. It is a ‘thinky’ novel rather than a ‘feely’ one – concerned with connecting ideas and observations; it is not particularly emotion- or character-driven. If you are looking for an examination of Duterte’s Philippines, you might want to look elsewhere. Apart from one climactic scene of police brutality, current day issues are not the main concern here. Nor is this what you would call ‘historical fiction’.

    We first meet Magsalin, a mystery writer and translator who has returned to her native Philippines after several years in the U.S. She is writing a novel about Chiara, an American filmmaker whose father Ludo, also a filmmaker, made a movie in the 1970s,

    , shot in the Philippines and ostensibly about the Vietnam war, but with parallels to an earlier insurrection in Balangiga in 1901 during the Philippine-American war.

    With me so far?

    Chiara (despite possibly being Magsalin’s fictional invention?) engages Magsalin as her translator. The two women undertake the writing & researching of duelling film scripts, one about the uprising at Balangiga, the other about the behind-the-scenes production of

    , including Chiara’s childhood.

    These metafictional layers are collapsed upon each other such that everything seems to be taking place on the same plane – different perspectives all facing out simultaneously. Chapter numbers are out of sequence, with the different story strands spliced together. The hopscotching chapters, seemingly in random order, are in fact assembled with care and things do begin to make sense in due course, but it takes a long time and most likely benefits from a second reading (an alternative chapter order, presumably sequential, is provided at

    along with other supplementary material).

    Apostol is concerned with perspectives, with lenses, multiple methods of viewing.

    is filled with examples of these from the familiar – cinema, photography – to the obsolete – the stereoscope and the praxinoscope with their early attempts at rendering 3D effects or moving images. Authors often employ cinematic techniques but Apostol’s chopped-up, montage style is more like a video art installation than a movie. The personal & the political; the historical & the contemporary; the colonised & the colonisers; the tragic & the absurd: none of these are foregrounded because it is all combined and presented as one multi-faceted view.

    Frequently you feel Apostol’s presence as a guide to decoding the book, as the text itself hints at how it should be read:

    At the heart of the story is Casiana Nacionales, the 'Geronima of Balangiga', female revolutionary and, in Apostol’s telling, the main instigator of the uprising. Nacionales remains enigmatic, but she represents the obscured and forgotten figures of history, a "story of war and loss so repressed and so untold".

    is not a straightforward historical accounting of events, it is a puzzle, one that won’t be to every reader’s taste. Nevertheless, it is powerful, memorable and assured.

  • Collin

    This is an amazing, skilfully written book. Apostol uses repetition, alliteration, multiple perspectives, and shifts the narrative back and forth in time, all to wonderful effect. In fact, after finishing this book, I feel it’s much deeper than I first thought and think I have only paddled over the surface. The narrative in its simplest form is about a massacre that took place in Balangiga in 1901. A terrible historical clash of cultures. Both cultures are represented by the two protagonists. Ma

    This is an amazing, skilfully written book. Apostol uses repetition, alliteration, multiple perspectives, and shifts the narrative back and forth in time, all to wonderful effect. In fact, after finishing this book, I feel it’s much deeper than I first thought and think I have only paddled over the surface. The narrative in its simplest form is about a massacre that took place in Balangiga in 1901. A terrible historical clash of cultures. Both cultures are represented by the two protagonists. Magsalin is a Filipino translator who is writing a book about Chiara and her famous father. Chiara is an American Film maker. The film she is making is about the massacre. A massacre in which a Filipino village and its inhabitants were killed in retaliation for the killing of its small American garrison. Chiara’s film tells the sordid tale from the perspective of an American photographer. Masalin is hired to help Chiara and incurs her wrath when she changes Chiara’s script and writes her version told more from a Filipino perspective. Apostol takes the reader back and forth from the present to the past, back and forth between the actual massacre and the filming of the massacre in the present. At the same time we are taken to the ongoing argument between Masalin and Chiara over the story and how it should be told. It is at this point we learn more about Chiara’s childhood and her father, and get an insight into why Chiara is making this film. It all works beautifully, however it can be slightly confusing at times, especially if read in multiple sittings. This is a great book. I will read it again, and I will also read all of Apostol’s work. 4.5 Stars.

  • Jerrie (redwritinghood)

    I found the audiobook of this on Hoopla, but the narrative of this book is complex so I would recommend reading a hard copy if one is available to you. This is a multi-layered story about two women traveling in the Philippines-a young American filmmaker and a translator. A central theme of the book is grief. Both women are dealing with personal grief, but there is also an examination of cultural/social grief in the face of colonialism and a particular massacre in the Philippines. There is a lot

    I found the audiobook of this on Hoopla, but the narrative of this book is complex so I would recommend reading a hard copy if one is available to you. This is a multi-layered story about two women traveling in the Philippines-a young American filmmaker and a translator. A central theme of the book is grief. Both women are dealing with personal grief, but there is also an examination of cultural/social grief in the face of colonialism and a particular massacre in the Philippines. There is a lot of jumping about between the different levels of the narrative, so I had to rewind and listen again multiple times to make sure I didn’t miss anything. 3.5⭐️

  • Jessie

    About two contemporary women, a filmmaker and a writer, travelling around the Philippines with a duelling narrative about an uprising against the Americans in 1901, this book tried to do all of the things. What I liked: 1. The idea of the book. There is an important story in there somewhere. 2. The badassery of the Filipinx folks that disrupts the western narratives of sweetness, forbearance and whatever other lies we tell ourselves to justify the labour we demand in the west 3. Some of the comp

    About two contemporary women, a filmmaker and a writer, travelling around the Philippines with a duelling narrative about an uprising against the Americans in 1901, this book tried to do all of the things. What I liked: 1. The idea of the book. There is an important story in there somewhere. 2. The badassery of the Filipinx folks that disrupts the western narratives of sweetness, forbearance and whatever other lies we tell ourselves to justify the labour we demand in the west 3. Some of the complex-ass history of colonialism in the Philippines (it is a long storied history of multiple colonizations, it’s a lot to parse - holy hell). What I didn’t like 1. It was hard to follow. Really hard to follow. I know I missed a lot. 2. Too many storylines. I couldn’t get invested. Some twists and turns were extraneous and unimportant. I had a hard time landing in the novel. 3. It was too in it’s own head. I called it both fussy and tortured at times. Apparently it had pages of reference material in the book? There was so much that was inaccessible to the listener. 4. It tried to fit too much into one book. Curse of the second novel? Being tricky on purpose? Idk but it lost me in it’s attempted scope in few pages. By book buddy told me that a review called it metafiction and I think that’s a nice way of saying “it’s too dense to parse and it feels like it’s trying to pull a fast one on you”. I would try her first novel to see if this was aberration, so that speaks to her capacity as an author I suppose?

  • Paris (Paperback Paris)

    Initial thoughts: Girl, bye.

    Well. This was definitely not the book I believed it was going to be. Gina Apostol’s

    , a novel of two women — one a translator, the other a filmmaker — forever bumping heads as they scribe the infamous and continuous brutalities of the Philippine-American War, had a promising foundation but was marred by the hands of its own creator.

    Getting through the first 50 pages of Apostol’s writing was, in itself, a chore, let alone its entire 300 pages. What's more, I

    Initial thoughts: Girl, bye.

    Well. This was definitely not the book I believed it was going to be. Gina Apostol’s

    , a novel of two women — one a translator, the other a filmmaker — forever bumping heads as they scribe the infamous and continuous brutalities of the Philippine-American War, had a promising foundation but was marred by the hands of its own creator.

    Getting through the first 50 pages of Apostol’s writing was, in itself, a chore, let alone its entire 300 pages. What's more, I was not expecting the book to become even more confusing as it progressed. Jessie, my biblio in crime with whom I read for a buddy read, echoed my exact feelings and frustrations. The only difference: she finished, I did not. (LOL) I tried, you guys. I truly did. Had it not been for Jessie’s reassurance and our commitment, I would have called it a day a long time ago.

    Maybe I will finish it anyway — I only had a couple chapters to go — but I know my feelings won’t change because the writing style made it nearly impossible to enjoy — I even tried listening on audio, which I’m not a fan of cause I like taking notes. (Many 2/3-star Goodreads users agree with me.) Apostol uses flowery, superfluous language and makes reference to just about as many useless details and flashbacks imaginable to cover up the fact that this story had no direction whatsoever. By two-thirds of the book, I was rendered helpless and wanted no more.

    One nice thing I have to say — something Jessie and I both agreed on — was that Apostol’s novel had an incredibly promising premise: Unpacking the colonialism and savagery of war inflicted upon natives of the Philippines through two women with strong ties to the atrocity? Sign me up! But told like this? No.

    My verdict, nonetheless: Sis, this ain’t it.

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