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Gina Apostol Books In Order

Publication Order of Standalone Novels

Gun Dealers' Daughter (2012) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Insurrecto (2018) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle

Author Gina Apostol was born in Manila, and was raised in Tacloban. She received her Master’s in creative writing from Johns Hopkins University after graduating from the University of the Philippines Diliman. Besides being a writer, she is also a high school history teacher.

Her American debut, “Gun Dealer’s Daughter” won a PEN/Open Book Award in the year 2013, and made the shortlist for the William Saroyan International Prize. Both “Bibliolepsy” and “The Revolution According to Raymundo Mata” won the Philippine National Book Award, the Juan Laya Prize for the Novel. Before “Insurrecto” was released, Publishers’ Weekly listed it as one of the year’s ten best books of 2018.

She was a fellow at Civitella Ranieri in Umbria, Italy and writer-in-residence at Phillips Exeter Academy. Gina is not one to do residencies, but this one was a magical experience for her. During her residency in Italy, she spent time in a castle called Civitella Ranieri, it is a rare place.

It was after her time here that she wanted to work on “Gun Dealer’s Daughter” again. This is after it had collected dust for about ten years. At the time, the manuscript was around four hundred pages, and within that year, revised the book pretty quickly. She knew quite a bit of what to keep or what to get rid of. She wrote some new things as well, like a lot of the details of the mansion. This came after Apostol moved to a mansion in Westchester, spending some time there, which was perfect for a the daughter of a gun dealer to live in.

Sol was a character that stuck with her for quite some time. Sol got into her head, and it made Apostol wonder about her and her predicament for around twelve years. Apostol lived with Sol’s guilt that entire time.

She finds the book to be a simple story, just a straight psychological thriller. On the other hand, though, it is complex and a political novel. It is a novel that plays with language, which is something that is at the heart of each of her books and the mystery inside of it.

Originally, the book was set in third person, but switching it to first person perspective helped to implicate Gina in Sol’s world. She was not just a satirist peering in, she was complicit, and this was what she wanted her readers to feel.

Apostol has contributed to publications as: Foreign Policy and Los Angeles Review of Books. Her debut novel, “Bibliolepsy” was published in the year 1997 in the Philippines. Her American debut, “Gun Dealer’s Daughter” was published in the year 2010.

Gina once told a poetry professor she had while at the University of the Philippines that she didn’t write poetry and apologized. Then she said to flunk her, as all she wrote was prose. Gina was taking writing courses during her time at University of Philippines and wound up becoming a writing major. She knew she wanted to pursue fiction writing.

While writing, she has an idea of what she wants to write, and some semblance of a structure. For her, structure is a very important part of a novel. This is something she plays with extensively in her books.

When she writes the first draft of a book, she writes it when there is a long period for her to write the book. Usually during the summer, since this is when she has three months free to write. Two of her books, “Raymundo Mata” and “Gun Dealers’ Daughter”, were written in one go, during different summers. It is the revision that takes much longer to finish. Gina feels that writing a novel is pretty much all in the revision process.

“Gun Dealer’s Daughter” is a stand alone novel, which was released in the year 2012. Shortly after leaving home to go to university in Manila, Soledad Soliman (Sol) transforms herself, going from a bookish rich lady to a communist rebel. Is her allegiance to Mao’s principles or to the comrade she fell in love with, named Jed? Is she really going to be part of the movement? Or is she really just a “useful fool”, a spoiled little brat who is playing at revolution?

Far away from the Philippines, Sol confesses the indiscretions of her youth in a mansion that overlooks the Hudson River, and is unable to get over the fatal act of communist fervor that seized her memory in a never ending loop.

Gina writes like no other writer, brutally fractured and energetic. The prose is immensely beautiful and the plot has been woven together intricately. All of her sentences reflect Sol’s state of mind. This is a great book, as it will challenge you, with the lucidity in the conclusion being both admonition and reward. These are characters that feel dynamic and real, not just characters from a book. This one will make you want to pick up more of Apostol’s work, it is that good.

“Insurrecto” is a stand alone novel, which was released in the year 2018. Two women, one of whom is an American filmmaker and the other one is a Filipino translator, go for a road trip in Duterte’s Philippines. They are collaborating and clashing during the writing of a movie script about a massacre that occurred during the Philippine-American War.

Chiara is making a film about an incident that occurred in Balangiga, Samar, in the year 1901, when some Filipino revolutionaries attacked a garrison belonging to Americans. American soldiers created “a howling wilderness” of the countryside surrounding the land, in retaliation for the attack.

Magsalin reads her script, and she writes her version of the story. Insurrecto contains inside the dramatic action two different scripts from the translator and filmmaker. One about a Filipino teacher and the other about a white photographer.

Gina is an author that makes readers always excited to pick up one of her books, and this one is ambitious, nervy, and erudite in how it explores American imperialism in the Philippines. Some readers love Gina Apostol simply for the way she writes and cannot get enough of her work. This is a complex and mind boggling novel that is completely worth the time it takes to read it.

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