To be entirely honest, I don’t read a lot of Filipino books. Picking up Ilustrado meant reconnecting with my own country’s unique literary voice, which is something I’ve sorely missed.
This ended up being a great decision. Ilustrado is well-written, and I’m only on the twenty-second page. I didn’t necessarily connect to it on a personal level, but I enjoyed the way Syjuco worked societal criticism into Salvador’s backstory. It made the mystery of Salvador’s death more fascinating - there’s a lot of people who could have genuinely wanted him dead or “disposed of” for his legacy of provocation and controversy. Even disregarding that, Ilustrado has all of the hallmarks of a great mystery: strange circumstances (the strange email that seemed like spam), men to chase, and something dirty at the heart of everything.
The only problem now is that there will be a limit to the amount I can meaningfully discuss with my Lit Circle groupmates. Two are reading Kafka on the Shore, while one is reading 1984. I believe I will be able to share key plot points and themes, but I do not know if I will be able to gain anything from our meetings as none of my groupmates will have experienced Illustrado as a fleshed-out piece of literature. Regardless, I will still aim to share what I can.