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3.2 5
by Jessica Hagedorn

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“As sharp and fast as a street boy’s razor . . . a rich small feast of a book.”—The New York Times Book Review

Welcome to Manila in the turbulent period of the Philippines’ late dictator. It is a world in which American pop culture and local Filipino tradition mix flamboyantly, and gossip, storytelling, and extravagant


“As sharp and fast as a street boy’s razor . . . a rich small feast of a book.”—The New York Times Book Review

Welcome to Manila in the turbulent period of the Philippines’ late dictator. It is a world in which American pop culture and local Filipino tradition mix flamboyantly, and gossip, storytelling, and extravagant behavior thrive.

A wildly disparate group of characters—from movie stars to waiters, from a young junkie to the richest man in the Philippines—becomes caught up in a spiral of events culminating in a beauty pageant, a film festival, and an assassination. In the center of this maelstrom is Rio, a feisty schoolgirl who will grow up to live in America and look back with longing on the land of her youth.

“Entertaining and compelling. . . . At the end, you emerge from its intense, dreamlike world feeling as if you’ve been to the Philippines.”—The Philadelphia Inquirer

“Hagedorn transcends social strata, gender, culture, and politics in this exuberant, witty, and telling portrait of Philippine society.”—The San Diego Union

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Born and raised in the Philippines, poet and playwright Hagedorn sets her first novel in the volatile political climate of that country's recent past. Although in many respects a thinly disguised roman a clef , the book succeeds on the strength of its characterization. Hagedorn ( Dangerous Music ) weaves together the immature impressions of Rio Gonzaga, a spunky well-to-do Manilan schoolgirl whose life is influenced as much by the movies and radio serials as the tsismis (gossip) of her large extended family, with the voices of Joey, a popular DJ and male prostitute; Rainer, a world-weary German film director being honored with a retrospective; and the Philippine's astonishingly candid First Lady, addressed only as Madame, among others. Hagedorn's unflinching view of Manila, encompassing child prostitution, the torture chambers and the slums, as well as the palatial quarters of the First Family, is leavened by ironic, often humorous observations. When the popular opposition leader is slain, each of the characters is directly affected; for some it is a moral awakening, for others the beginning of the end of a stranglehold on power. (Mar.)
Library Journal
This jazzy, sardonic novel depicts the nightmare world that was the Philippines of the Marcoses. Its terrain is familiar to us from the writings of Gabriel Garcia Marquez and Manuel Puig: a lush, fantastical, overheated landscape, where the fractured lives of the poor are rendered palatable solely by dreams. Rich and poor, everyone sells something here; everyone has a price. The common dream of a myriad group of characters--bored teenagers, timid shop girls, male prostitutes on the make--is that hollowest of all modern apotheoses, ``stardom.'' A visiting filmmaker, a German degenerate, buys the services of a pretty boy, who soliloquizes: ``I'll have it all worked out, soon. I know I will. I have to. I'll hit the jackpot with one of these guys. Leave town. Get lucky . . . . Soon.'' This is a novel about the death of the good life of the soul: of all virtue, meaning, and hope. Exceptionally well written and emotionally wrenching. Recommended.-- David Keymer, SUNY Inst. of Technology, Utica

Product Details

Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date:
Contemporary American Fiction Series
Edition description:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.10(w) x 7.70(h) x 0.57(d)
860L (what's this?)
Age Range:
18 Years

Meet the Author

Jessica Hagedorn is the author of the novels Dogeaters and The Gangster of Love, Dream Jungle, and a collection of poetry and short fiction, Danger and Beauty.

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Dogeaters 3.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 5 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book used too many tagalog phrases that I couldn't even decipher from the context. I read one quarter of the book and decided that it wasn't worth my time.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
e-den More than 1 year ago
Dogeaters is an excellent book, especially for those who like nonlinear narratives. It is a book that captures, in a very intriguing way, the taste and temperature of life in the Philippines. Many of the chapters took place from the point of view of separate characters, leaving the reader to piece together subtle facts to form a picture of Filipino society. The few characters viewed in first person (Rio, Joey), were interesting. Their hopes and dreams worked to define contemporary Filipino society throughout several decades. Those chapters in third person were fascinating as well - adding a keen analysis of the gossip and rumors that pervaded the book. In addition, there were several chapters that consisted only of quotes and newspaper articles. Despite the disparity of these chapters, and the scattered and claustrophobic nature of the stories that each chapter told, Hagedorn does a fantastic job of integrating it all. Jessica Hagedorn proves her ability and gall as an author in creating and managing so many separate narratives, fusing them into a single, cohesive tale. The ending does prove a problem, as Hagedorn provides sudden evidence that proves many of the facts presented in the novel as false. This left me with a sense of abandonment - I have just finished this book, but what for? I am normally a person who loves surprise or reverse endings but this seemed to much. For me, Hagedorn's choice of ending left the plot unresolved, and the stories of the individual characters unfinished. I am forced to consider that this was part of her plan - and that it provides an unsettling insight into Filipino culture - but there is part of me that fears that this isn't true. The ending was, for me, completely unsatisfying. Dogeaters is worth a read for its tone and imagery, and for the emotions that it portrays. But not, in my opinion, for its plot.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Jessica Hagedorn's 'Dogeaters' is an attention-grabbing piece of work! It brings me to Manila, flashing back and left me in tranquility with my thoughts rousing. (-: It's a powerful novel, dominating me to keep on reading and visualize the story after story. It helps the modern day PINOY to look back on Manila's past, what it used to be and wonder if it is still like that. Somehow, I was absorbed by the Dogeaters. BASTA, it's attractive & unforgettable! Surprisingly, this book that I once thought I'm not interested on comprehending is the same book that I didn't know will inspire me to further my interest in writing!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Hagedorn's skill is real cut throat and edgy. She takes you on a ride and before you think it's over, a turn lies around the corner. The deliberate and skillful combination of english and tagalog ( philippine dialect) better known as taglish is one that not many filipino-american authors can use with ease and let's face it, with spunk. One critic that I agree with poignantly states, ' Hagedorn's novels are as if she had finished writing the last page and throws the work up in the air putting the pages together in no particular order; albeit enough, by the end of the novel, everything comes together in a whirlwind of clarity and acidic nature... some people just don't get this...the previous critic who didn't finish the novel... too bad, you missed out on the ride and you're headed down the path of the 'lonely hearts road' but for those who do, write with me and give props where props is deserved!!!