I talk a lot about language in this interview about Gun Dealers’ Daughter

because, in my view, a writer’s job is to recognize reflexivity constantly: to wonder why it is we use the words we do. And for a Filipino, that angst is vital: because with our multiple tongues, the fact that a human is a translated being, a split self divided by words, is always in our face.

Thanks to Rowan Hisayo Buchanan of Asian American Writers Workshop. Listen to the interview here. Best perhaps to use the subtitles tool. It is on the roof deck of my apartment building, and we did not realize how noisy the airplanes would be. Also, I hate my hair! It’s ugly. I should have had my haircut before, not after, the interview!

Interview from last March.

The genius of the self-aware postcolonial mindset is that we are used to seeing double — we know already that there is another reality that someone has shaped for us, the reality of that other who misreads us yet has power over us; we have lived for a long time with the struggle of seeing ourselves in multiple ways, whether consciously or not, both through the eyes of the enemy, the colonizer, and through our own hampered, obstructed eyes, the colonized — so that the skill of seeing through a veil and thus penetrate and somehow find ourselves is simply a matter of survival, for us. The complex skill of empathy. Because we live in a double world of a person always requiring translation, we have a skill set that can be quite powerful, if you think about it, if you harness it. If you are aware of it. Anyhow. It’s an idea, I think, that drives my novels, or at least drives me to write. That the postcolonial citizen who reads closely is a powerful reader of the world.

Interview-in-excerpts: Gun Dealers’ Daughter in Dzanc Books blog

They asked me to respond to their questions about writing with excerpts from the novel. But I thought—my ENTIRE NOVEL is about writing (in my view anyway). So I rifled through some passages before I got on a train at Penn Station. Here’s the result. Thanks to Joseph Scapellato and Dzanc Books. Click on the photo:


Read Largeheartedboy, a great music website. My playlist for Gun Dealers’ Daughter below. I’d include The Jam’s Going Underground, if I could.

Read Largeheartedboy, a great music website. My playlist for Gun Dealers’ Daughter below. I’d include The Jam’s Going Underground, if I could.

The book Gun Dealers’ Daughter is on tv: WCVB in Boston. I spoke to Karen Holmes Ward on the show Cityline. Thanks, Karen Holmes Ward.

You can see the clip here. But don’t look at my shoes: I had only one pair of formal, non-chinelas shoes in the house, because everything was in New York, where I had just moved. My mod go-go boots are extremely amusing (to me).


bookslut interview: Gun Dealers’ Daughter

Denise, my editor, interviewed me for bookslut. Here’s how it starts:


When agent Kirby Kim first sent me Gina Apostol’s Gun Dealers’ Daughter, pitching it as an “obdurately literate tale of rebellion and romance, adolescence and assassins,” I couldn’t help starting to read immediately, despite the piles of work that crowded my desk (I’m an assistant editor, after all!). And I kept reading and reading, through the end of the workday and onto the subway and before I knew it I was at home, locked out of my Brooklyn apartment because, in my excited daze, I’d left my keys at the office.

I wish I would have included that blurb on the back of the book: “This novel will make you leave your keys at the office” — Denise Scarfi. But aside from that omission, I have been thrilled with every stage of this book’s publication, and especially with the opportunity to get to know a writer who thinks so deeply and intelligently about her craft, and who writes out of pure enjoyment. It is a testament to her skill and sense of humor that she’d managed to have fun (and to create a fun reading experience) writing about Sol, a daughter of arms dealers who attempts to ditch her elitist roots and become a part of the communist movement — all (or mostly) for a boy!

I feel extremely lucky to have acquired and edited this weird, Borgesian puzzle-of-a-novel that seems to offer infinite satisfactions — a coming-of-age tale, a love story, an amnesiac thriller, a revolutionary potboiler. In this interview, Gina and I talk about the novel as improvisation, becoming an accidental communist, and Filipinos’ singing skills, among other things…. ”

Read the rest of the interview here.