Soho. Nov. 2018. 336p. ISBN 9781616959449. $26; ebk. ISBN 9781616959456. F
Apostol (Gun Dealers' Daughter) offers a complex, nonlinear novel that centers on atrocities committed during the Philippine-American War, events little known to most Americans. These episodes are recounted through a multilayered story about Chiara, a filmmaker whose father directed a movie about the Vietnam War in Samar, Philippines, in the 1970s, and Magsalin, a writer and translator whom Chiara hires as a guide. As they travel together to Samar, Chiara and Magsalin present competing versions of a screenplay in order to confront the Balangiga massacre, and their own demons, directly or indirectly. Along the way, we encounter chapters numbered out of order; metacommentary about truth, fiction, and colonialism; and references to popular culture from Muhammed Ali to Elvis Presley. Within the novel itself, Apostol directly confronts anticipated criticisms about the confusing nature of the narrative and posits whether readers need to understand everything or pick up every reference. While the postmodern structure serves to distance (and at some points frustrate) readers, by the second half there's a forward thrust, and the chapter numbering begins to make sense.
VERDICT Worthy of a place in collections strong in postcolonial and experimental fiction.

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