Book Review : Descartes Highland


Description:

Two men, each unaware of the other, share a common family secret: they were sold for adoption by their American father shortly after their births in the Philippines. Three alternating stories interweave the experiences of father Andrew Breszky and the two sons who try to connect and piece together the puzzle of their reckless, impulsive father. One lives in New York and the other grows up in the south of France, later traveling all over Asia as a documentary filmmaker. Both will discover that their relationships somehow echo that of the young man whose history eludes them.
Celebrated Filipino writer Eric Gamalinda’s international debut novel is a contemporary work of ideas that combines mystery, film noir, and existential philosophy. Highly intricate and written in a style reminiscent of the maverick narrative techniques of such filmmakers as Andrei Tarkovsky and Béla Tarr, and with some of the philosophical underpinnings of Michel Houellebecq or Javier Marías. Named after the region of the moon where Apollo 16 landed in the same year these men were born, The Descartes Highlands demonstrates that for lives marked by unrelieved loneliness, the only hope lies in the redemptive power of love.

Back in High School days, I got addicted to local(Philippines) novels mostly written in Tagalog. The stories mostly revolve around forbidden love, Cinderella type stories and lots of drama. English novels were
hard to find and a bit expensive for a student like me.

Although it’s been awhile since I read this pocketbooks, I’m always in a look out for a Filipino writer who deviates from this genre so when Amy Tan recommended this book from Eric Gamalinda, I instantly got a copy.

The book is definitely an intereting read. It switches from present time to early 1970’s in the Philippines and narrates what happens to each character in their period. It explores the era in the Philippines during the Martial Law where everyone is trying to find a way to escape or survive the regime.

What I like about this book is that nothing is sugar coated when it talks about the Philippines. This was/is the lives of some Filipinos. Reading it made me realize what my country has become this past 40 years.

The corruption in the government is still rampant though but slowly being exposed. The ruling politicians that were the same people involve in the Martial Law are still ruling the country.The bad things that he mentioned are ( I think ) still exists especially in the big cities.

I want to say more smart things about the book, but I think it’s much better if you just read it, I can assure you you will not be disappointed.

 

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