Miguel Syjuco, now based in Montreal, received the Palanca award as well as the 2008 Man Asian Literary Prize for the then unpublished manuscript ILUSTRADO. Ilustrado has been called “brilliantly conceived and stylishly executed . . .It is also ceaselessly entertaining, frequently raunchy, and effervescent with humor” by the 2008 Man Asian Literary Prize panel of judges. No wonder Macmillan published Miguel Syjuco's manuscript and put behind it the marketing usually reserved for books of well known authors.
Ilustrado starts with a body being fished out of the Hudson River in New York, that of Crispin Salvador a Filipino literary giant. Missing was his manuscript that was supposed to save him from obscurity and expose the sins of the Filipino ruling families. Miguel his only remaining friend and student sets out to Manila to investigate.
Miguel goes through his mentor's life story by going through his poems, memoirs, novels, interviews and polemics. Before him was a story spanning four generations equivalent to 150 years of Philippine history from the Spanish, to the Americans, and to the Filipinos.
This is an absolute "must read" and no more spoilers but an encouragement for everyone to read Miguel Syjuco's book.
Here is what people have to say about Ilustrado
“Ilustrado will provoke audible oohs and ahhs from readers . . . The writing is gorgeous. Plus, there's an O. Henry twist in the epilogue. This is a great book. Read it.” —Luis Clemens, Senior Editor, Tell Me More
“Syjuco’s exceptional novel exceeds its heightened expectations, serving notice that a brilliant new talent has arrived, somehow fully formed.” —Jared Bland, The Walrus
“Dazzling . . . It is a virtuoso display of imagination and wisdom, particularly remarkable from a 31-year-old author; a literary landmark for the Philippines and beyond.” —Michele Leber, Booklist (starred review)
“This imaginative first novel shows considerable ingenuity in binding its divergent threads into a satisfying, meaningful story.” —Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“Through his vivid use of language, Syjuco has crafted a beautiful work of historical fiction that's part mystery and part sociopolitical commentary. Readers who enjoyed Junot Díaz's The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao will enjoy this literary gem.” —Library Journal (starred review)
“An ambitious debut novel, winner of the Man Asian Literary Prize, introduces an author of limitless promise . . . It dazzles as brightly as Jonathan Safran Foer’s Everything Is Illuminated . . . First novels rarely show such reach and depth.” —Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
“Miguel Syjuco’s dizzyingly energetic and inventive novel views his native Philippines with a merciless yet loving eye, its many voices a chorus illuminating the various facets of this chaotic, complicated country. An ambitious and admirable debut.” —Janice Y. K. Lee, author of The Piano Teacher
“Vulnerable and mischievous, sophisticated and naïve, Ilustrado explores the paradoxes that come with the search for identity and throws readers into the fragile space between self-pursuit and self-destruction. A novel about country and self, youth and experience, it is elegiac, thoughtful, and original.” —Colin McAdam, author of Fall and Some Great Thing
“From the ruckus of rumors, blogs, ambitions, overweening grandparents, indifferent history, and personal crimes, Miguel Syjuco has innovatively reimagined that most wonderfully old-fashioned consolation: literature. Ilustrado is a great novel.” —Rivka Galchen, author of Atmospheric Disturbances
“Brilliantly conceived, and stylishly executed, [Ilustrado] covers a large and tumultuous historical period with seemingly effortless skill. It is also ceaselessly entertaining, frequently raunchy, and effervescent with humour.” —2008 Man Asian Literary Prize Panel of Judges