Community Events

10/26/2012: PAWA Presents Gina Apostol’s Gun Dealers’ Daughter at the Philippine Consulate (SF)

For immediate release.
Contact: Philippine American Writers and Artists

Please join PAWA as we welcome Gina Apostol to the Bay Area for the San Francisco launch of her novel, Gun Dealers’ Daughter.

When: Friday, October 26, 2012
Doors open at 5:30 pm | Event begins at 6:00 pm
Where: The Philippine Consulate
447 Sutter Street San Francisco, CA 94108


“Gina Apostol’s novel is just what literature needed. Fresh, funny, irreverent, it won me over immediately.” —Gary Shteyngart, author of Super Sad True Love Story

“There is Didion in the female protagonist with the fractured consciousness and there is Naipaul in the sharp portrait of a third world where revolution battles privilege, but Ms. Apostol performs her own unique alchemy: she fuses poetic language with a thriller story to create a mesmerizing slow-burn of a book.” —Han Ong, author of The Disinherited

“In Gun Dealers’ Daughter, Gina Apostol probes the hard truths of love, nationhood, and exile with crisp intelligence and subtle humor. Apostol is a fearless, stylish writer of substance, and her American debut is long overdue.” —Jessica Hagedorn, author of Toxicology

“The mind at its best is a ruinous house, with traps.”

As she idles away the years in a decrepit mansion overlooking the Hudson River, Solidad Soliman (Sol), the unforgettable narrator of GUN DEALERS’ DAUGHTER: A Novel [W. W. Norton & Company; July 9, 2012; $24.95 hardcover], obsessively relives a brief but traumatic episode from her adolescence.

Sol, born into privilege in the Marcos-era Philippines, never questions the true source of her family’s wealth until she enrolls in university in Manila. There she joins a rebellious Maoist student group and becomes infatuated with Jed, a fellow rich kid who has denounced his birthright for the communist cause. But Sol is the daughter of arms traders whose business props up the country’s political tyranny—can she ever be more than her legacy? “The state of the country was enough to condemn me […] under a military dictatorship, guns, goons, and gold were not just tired devices in a slogan but a percussive note that […] dogged my every domestic good.”

Gina Apostol’s third novel—her U.S. debut—is a lush, dizzying depiction of wealth, corruption, and rebellion in 1970s Philippines. As the novel opens, Sol—now an adult—suffers from anterograde amnesia. She lives in the past, endlessly compelled to confess her minor role in a political assassination that resulted in devastating unintended consequences. “We’ll always have our wealth,” she insists, “we will always have our names. There is something suspicious, dishonest in playacting revolt. We’re cockroaches. We’ll even outlast our crimes.”

GUN DEALERS’ DAUGHTER is that rare accomplishment of both language and plot—combining the literary allusions and linguistic puzzles of Borges with the vertiginous pace of a Hitchcock thriller. Apostol’s razor-sharp language yields perpetual delights: Jed is “a millionaire who dressed like Saint Francis and acted like Saint Jerome […] as if he spent days starving himself in the desert, transcribing the words of the Lord.” A Philippine bureaucrat is “a clean, mild-mannered blur in the night”; a detestable court artist “[gurgles] her usual gnomic curses like some zombie from nomad land.”

Beyond the rich, allusive language and the tightly controlled plot, GUN DEALERS’ DAUGHTER is a fascinating psychological portrait of a damaged mind doomed to confession and repetition. As engrossing as the unraveling voice of erudite guilt in John Banville’s Book of Evidence, as clever a novelistic puzzle as Nabokov’s Pale Fire, all the story’s elements resolve in a deeply satisfying finale.

GUN DEALERS’ DAUGHTER is a trove of obscure facts, imperial histories, and ironic social relations of the Philippine elite, and an exploration of the power of language to absolve or imprison us for our sins. It is also a resonant portrait of one woman’s youthful idealism, adolescent lust, and disillusionment in a life circumscribed by her inescapable privilege and its dark origins.

Gina Apostol won the Philippine National Book Award for her first two novels, Bibliolepsy and The Revolution According to Raymundo Mata. She teaches at Deerfield Academy in Deerfield, Massachusetts.

TITLE: Gun Dealers’ Daughter
AUTHOR: Gina Apostol
ISBN: 978-0-393-06294-6
PRICE: $24.95 hardcover

Book sales will be handled by Arkipelago Books | Author photo credit: Ken Byrne


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