Eric Gamalinda to unveil latest novel at Asia Society on Dec. 1

This is Gamalinda’s first novel to be published in the United States.

This is Gamalinda’s first novel to be published in the United States.

Eric Gamalinda’s complex, compelling and troubling new novel “The Descartes Highlands” is brought to life through dramatic readings by actors Alexis Camins, Jennifer Betit Yen, and Ben Mandell, with a conversation between Gamalinda and writer/filmmaker Jessica Hagedorn on his work. This event, to be held December 1 from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at the Asia Society, will be followed by a book sale and signing.

Two young men, each unaware of the other’s existence, share a family secret: they were sold for adoption by their American father shortly after their births in the Philippines during the chaotic months leading up to Marcos’s declaration of martial law in 1972. Three alternating stories interweave the experiences of these men and their birth-father as they independently try to connect and piece together the complex story of their father and their birth. Both sons will discover that their relationships somehow echo that of their father’s and that the violence and corruption of his generation echoes down through subsequent generations.

Gamalinda’s international debut novel is a contemporary work of ideas that combines mystery, film noir, and existential philosophy and ventures into the territory of such writers as Michel Houellebecq or Javier Marías. Named “The Descartes Highlands” after the region of the moon where Apollo 16 landed in the same year these children were born, this novel tells the story of its characters’ quest for an understanding of their existence outside of the chaos of their lives, which are spiraling out of control.

“This novel delivers a commitment to beauty as unflinching as the bleak truths it tells — about globalization, about colonialism, about our human madness — offering in turn what seems our only, paradoxical hope: the pained telling of our story — a gorgeous and bitter feast,” says Gina Apostol, author of “Gun Dealers’ Daughter.”

Gamalinda has previously published, in the Philippines, a collection of stories, three poetry collections, and four novels, including “My Sad Republic,” winner of the Philippine Centennial Prize in 1998. Born and raised in Manila, where he worked as a journalist covering everything from politics to rock music, Gamalinda currently lives in New York City and teaches at the Center for the Study of Race and Ethnicity at Columbia University. “The Descartes Highlands” was short-listed for the Man Asian Literary Prize (a prize awarded to unpublished manuscripts).

Despite being a highly regarded author in the Philippines, this is Gamalinda’s first novel to be published in the United States. “The Descartes Highlands” is published by Akashic Books.

Jessica Hagedorn was born in Manila and now lives in New York. A novelist, poet, and playwright, her published works include “Toxicology, Dream Jungle,” “The Gangster Of Love,” “Danger and Beauty,” and “Dogeaters,” which was a finalist for the National Book Award in fiction. She also edited both volumes of the groundbreaking anthology “Charlie Chan Is Dead: An Anthology of Contemporary Asian American Fiction.” – Asia Society

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