Gina Apostol

Fitzcarraldo Editions 2018
A book review by Danny Yee © 2023
Translator Magsalin is employed by filmmaker Chiara to accompany her to the Philippine island of Sagar. Chiara is planning a film about her father, a filmmaker who shot a film there in the 1970s, and his wife and lover, but Magsalin has her own ideas about how that story should go — and is also writing their own journey into a script as they go along. And the third strand to Insurrecto is made up of a narrative of a socialite experimental photographer caught up in the Balangiga massacre in 1901, presumably from Chiara's father's film.

The result: "has an illusory aspect, part memory, part script, the split state of a spectator awkwardly providing her own unpaid translation in a movie in which she in fact exists". And the metafictional complexity is supplemented by excursions on the cultural importance of Elvis Presley and Mohammed Ali and vignettes of the Philippines present and past.

Insurrecto perhaps tries to do too much — and there must be many links and connections in it that I missed. But the core stories progress smoothly and straightforwardly enough that it is possible to relax and enjoy the flow without struggling or getting confused.

November 2023

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%T Insurrecto
%A Apostol, Gina
%I Fitzcarraldo Editions
%D 2018
%O paperback
%G ISBN-13 9781913097035
%P 271pp