First book of the year: Ilustrado - Miguel Syjuco

The first book I'm going to attempt to read this year is "Ilustrado". I was randomly linked to an interview that featured Miguel Syjuco. It was a really smart interview and he had some pretty interesting things to say (Interview with The Australian and with TIME). A quote from The Australian interview:
In The Philippines, English is the language of education, government and the elite social strata to which Syjuco belongs -- he admits that his Tagalog, the language of the masses, is "embarrassing, conversational", if that.
When I read that I thought, "That is so me." When I was in the Philippines for holidays last year I spoke in English the whole time. I could understand more than I could speak. But speaking in English just gives me away (ie. they'll know I'm a tourist).

From the blurb:
ILUSTRADO opens with Crispin Salvador, lion of Philippine letters, dead in the Hudson River. His young acolyte, Miguel, sets out to investigate the author's suspicious death and the strange disappearance of an unfinished manuscript - a work that had been planned not just to return the once-great author to fame but to expose the corruption behind the rich families who have ruled the Philippines for generations.

To understand the death, Miguel scours the life, charting Salvador's trajectory via his poetry,interviews, novels, polemics and memoirs. The literary fragments become patterns, becomes stories, become epic: a 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.
This is Miguel Syjuco's debut novel and from all the reviews I've read thus far - it's a good one.

Having grown up in Australia I have very little knowledge about the history of the Philippines. It's not something that you study at school. Good books on Philippine history are rare so I think this would be a good chance to learn something.

I originally bought this book as a Christmas present. It wasn't for anyone in particular but I thought it'd be a good gift. In the end we bought 2 too many presents and this was leftover so I got to keep it for myself. I wrapped it and everything.

Finally have some sort of little break from summer school (not really. I'm pretty sure I have something due soon but I need to read something that is not law related or I think my brain might just die).

I think I ended up reading maybe 5 books last year. Maybe. Not a lot. I have a lot of books I want to read this year. Let's hope I have the time!

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