You will read Gun Dealers’ Daughter wondering where Gina Apostol novels have been all these years (in the Philippines, it turns out). You will feel sure (and you will be correct) that you have discovered a great fiction writer in the midst of making literary history. Gun Dealers’ Daughter is a story of young people who rebel against their parents, have sex with the wrong people, and betray those they should be most loyal to. At its essence this is a coming of age novel, albeit one where rebellion is part of a national revolution and where sex with another girl’s boyfriend leads to assassination. This is coming of age in the 1980s, Philippine dictatorship style, where college students are killed for their activism. The telling is fractured, as are the times. The reveal of information happens in a nonlinear manner, reflective of the mental breakdown suffered by the main character, Sol. We flip between Manila, where Sol is in school, and New York, where she goes to escape the madness that she has done and that has been done to her. Through this novel we see how fiction can scrape out a future, demand a re-look at the past—it is a reckoning kind of book. Not only does this novel make an argument for social revolution, it makes an argument for the role of literature in revolution—the argument being that literature can be revolution.
Excerpts from Gun Dealers’ Daughter on PEN’s blog: http://www.pen.org/fiction/gun-dealers-daughter
Read the review by Paul Nadal here or click on image below.
Recorder link here.
“A casual revolutionary,” this reviewer calls Sol. In general, a fine understanding. But his final remarks annoy me:
” Whether Sol ever gains a fuller understanding of her active role in history, which includes her involvement in a man’s death, remains as hazy as Borges’s dream of an image modified into a tale. And as readers, we are left with the sense that the comforting dream of foolish youth may have triumphed over the harshness of revolution and reality.”
I mean, the girl lost her mind. The ethical point of that end seems lost on the guy. It’s all about the harshness of reality—she is unable to grasp her self. That is a tough end for that girl—or for anyone. Do I have to ask a professor of lit a question I ask fourteen-year-olds in my freshman high school classes: and so, what is implied in the loss of mind? Aber? I feel like a reverse-Kinbote—the author who will go strangle readers for their inadequate intuition.
Gun Dealers’ Daughter now has the interesting distinction of being picked up by the longstanding neocon journal Commentary early in the summer (its first mention) and by the great radical newsletter, CounterPunch, started by the late great Alexander Cockburn (also of the The Nation). I heart CounterPunch.
Charles R. Larson, emeritus professor of literature at American University, Washington, DC, says of the novel:
“And that complex narration is, in fact, one of the major strengths of this classic example of madness and trauma, repression and guilt. Gina Apostol’s Gun Dealers’ Daughter is a haunting study of misplaced actions by corrupt governments and the naifs who believe they can make them accountable.”