The writer, Jimmy So, has a nice idea on Sol’s tragedy and makes interesting allusions to Melville, Stevenson, and Tolstoy:
“Some writers write for entertainment—Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island comes to mind. Others do it because they want to understand something—the nature of obsession, for Melville, or perhaps the obsession to see if he can put into Moby Dick every word in the English language at least once. Both books are referenced in Gun Dealers’ Daughter, and the two approaches are not mutually exclusive. Yet Apostol is very much in the second camp. Her third novel is the story of Soledad Soliman, a spoiled daughter of Philippino arms dealers is in New York recovering from a mental breakdown, amid “the soft butt-end of the Hudson’s light.” Soledad lives (and writes) with a determination to understand her place in the world and the proper course of action to take in her moment of history. And what a moment, as all around her revolution is springing up against Ferdinand Marcos. Will she help the Maoist (including Jed, who she’s fallen for) or does her allegiance lie with her morally-questionable family? Soledad’s circumstance is almost too perfect as a symbol of existential uncertainty, even more so than Pierre Bezukhov in War and Peace—neither of them have any firm footing on what they should stand for. But whereas Bezukhov is redeemed by his magnanimous virtures, Soledad is driven mad by the different forces tearing at her. The Philippines, too, emerge as an extraordinary symbol of a new world order. Whether one can really understand a person as conflicted as Soledad or a country as torn as the Philippines is another matter. The tragedy of Gun Dealers’ Daughter suggests such a task might be just too much….” Get the thoughtful review on Newsweek’s The Daily Beast here.