December 21, 2009

Dogeaters by Jessica Hagedorn

Date Started: November 30, 2009
Date Finished: December 5, 2009

Summary: Dogeaters is a novel about the colonialism and imperialism in the Philippines. The story is told through the point of view of many different characters, most notable the characters Rio, a girl growing up in privileged family, Joey, a homosexual DJ at a local club, Romeo, a man obsessed with stardom, Baby Alacran, a girl who doesn't met the standards of beauty in her family, and Daisy Avila, a beauty queen turned into a soldier in guerilla warfare. The story is told through several decades and is a social commentary on how imperialism affects other nations.   

Likes: I like all the different narratives that the author tells the story through. It shows me, as a writer, that it can be done and it can be done quite well. I never got confused as to who was talking whether the part be in third person or first person. My favorite characters, Joey and Daisy, had the most compelling stories. I like that my teacher assigned this book in class, because I probably would have never heard of it or bothered to pick it up in a library. The class was on comparative literature of the post-colonial age and I think this story shows the horrors of imperialism as it relates to another culture. The people in the higher classes are so concerned with themselves and appealing to their European and American counterparts that are almost oblivious to their nations plight, which speaks multitudes on how imperialism on another culture and within itself keeps the masses ignorant to the corruption that is going on in their own backyards, so to speak.

Dislikes:  I wish that the author would have chosen Daisy Avila as her central character instead of Rio. Daisy's story was more compelling than Rio's, who hardly had a story of her own to tell. The ending with Pucha, Rio's cousin, was odd and a little bit hard to understand whether Rio was telling the truth or if we should believe Pucha, considering all that had been said about her by other characters.

Overall: I liked this book. The teacher made a wise decision when choosing this book. I'm not sure I would have liked this book had I read it in a different context outside of class. I might have liked it for it's literary merit as far as telling a story through multiple points of view and switching between third vs. first person point of view as well. I think since I read it for class, I like it for both its artistic merit as well as its social commentary. They both can be separated in most stories, but I believe they go hand-in-hand in this story. Did I mention I got in A- in this class.


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