A multi-layered, many-voiced novel about two women, a Filipino translator and an American filmmaker, who go on a road trip in Duterte’s Philippines, collaborating and clashing in the writing of a film script about a massacre during the Philippine-American War.
... brilliant ... The novel brims with plot. Yet plot is almost beside the point. More interesting are Apostol’s many women, stand-ins and doppelgängers whose stories intercut and complicate ... Apostol is a magician with language (think Borges, think Nabokov) who can swing from slang and mockery to the stodgy argot of critical theory. She puns with gusto, potently and unabashedly, until one begins reading double meanings, allusions and ulterior motives into everything ... Embedded in all this violence, Insurrecto suggests, is absurdity. Balangiga, no matter how you count the bodies, was “a crime of history that no single vision can redeem.” In confronting that crime, Apostol has written a novel of multitudinous vision, one that dares to ask: In the face of so much tragedy, what can one do after the crying … but laugh?
Gina Apostol’s stunning novel Insurrecto offers a nuanced narration that deftly illustrates the power of perspective and the importance of the storyteller while revisiting the complicated history of the Philippines ... the inspired structure of the novel: all three story lines (the road trip, Chiara’s script, Magsalin’s alternative vision) unfold out of sequence, constantly challenging the reader to piece together the stories—a task that becomes impossible once it’s clear that Apostol has interwoven the narratives. Like parallel universes, all three exist simultaneously, complementing each other like the parts of a stereo card: it takes more than one side to achieve depth ... each strong female lead shines in her individuality ... An arresting novel with a timely political message, Apostol’s Insurrecto dazzles with its inventive structure and superb portrayals of women as leaders of ingenuity, creativity and reason.
... thrillingly imagined and provocative ... To some extent the novel is tackling the issue of cultural appropriation, but it never ventures close to anything like a crass attempt at resolution, instead using the complexity of its narrative and thematic structure to hint at the difficulty in understanding the confluence of history, power and the individual. None of it is designed to be easy for the reader, and the organisation of the novel constantly gives the impression of being in search of something that lies just beyond the grasp of total comprehension.