Gina Apostol: Live Reading & ConversationThursday, April 8, 2021 @ 7:00 PM - 8:00 PM
Streamed on City of Asylum’s Virtual Channel. (Run-time 60 min)
Revealing glimpses of the Philippine Revolution and the Filipino writer Jose Rizal emerge despite the worst efforts of feuding academics in Apostol’s hilariously erudite novel, which won the Philippine National Book Award. Gina Apostol will be joined by award winning poet Ken Chen to discuss her creative process in a live moderated conversation with audience Q&A.
Gina Apostol’s riotous second novel takes the form of a memoir by one Raymundo Mata, a half-blind bookworm and revolutionary, tracing his childhood, his education in Manila, his love affairs, and his discovery of writer and fellow revolutionary, Jose Rizal. Mata’s 19th-century story is complicated by present-day foreword(s), afterword(s), and footnotes from three fiercely quarrelsome and comic voices: a nationalist editor, a neo-Freudian psychoanalyst critic, and a translator, Mimi C. Magsalin.
In telling the contested and fragmentary story of Mata, Apostol finds new ways to depict the violence of the Spanish colonial era, and to reimagine the nation’s great writer, Jose Rizal, who was executed by the Spanish for his revolutionary activities, and is considered by many to be the father of Philippine independence.
The Revolution According to Raymundo Mata offers an intoxicating blend of fact and fiction, uncovering lost histories while building dazzling, anarchic modes of narrative.
“Apostol’s novel requires us to sit up, lean in, and study. It demands our active participation. In the end, The Revolution According to Raymundo Mata is intended for a Filipino audience first—with inside jokes, play on words, and regional references—and American audiences second. And that’s a definitive reason to pick it up. Apostol holds a mirror to American exceptionalism and forces us to look.”—PLOUGHSHARES
Gina Apostol is the PEN Open Book Award–winning author of Gun Dealers’ Daughter, as well as a two-time winner of the National Book Award in the Philippines for her novels Bibliolepsy and The Revolution According to Raymundo Mata. Her short stories have appeared in various anthologies and journals including The Gettysburg Review and the Penguin anthology of Asian American fiction, Charlie Chan Is Dead, Volume 2.
Ken Chen was a 2019-2020 Cullman Fellow at the New York Public Library, where he worked on his next book Death Star. He was the 2009 winner of the Yale Series of Younger Poets Award for his book Juvenilia, which was selected by the poet Louise Glück. The recipient of fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the New York Foundation for the Arts, and the Bread Loaf writers Conference, he has published nonfiction in Best American Essays, N+1, The New Republic, Frieze, The New Inquiry, Poetry, and NPR’s All Things Considered. He is represented by The Wylie Agency. Chen served as the Executive Director of the Asian American Writers’ Workshop from 2008 to 2019. He has worked as a consultant for numerous organizations, including Creative Capital, the New York Community Trust, the Academy of American Poets, and the National Book Foundation, for which he served as a National Book Award Judge. He also co-founded the cultural website Arts & Letters Daily and CultureStrike, a national arts organization dedicated to migrant justice. He has been quoted in NPR’s All Things Considered, The Wall Street Journal, CNN, The New Republic, The New Yorker, and The New York Times. A graduate of Yale Law School, he successfully defended the asylum application of an undocumented Muslim high school student from Guinea detained by Homeland Security.