Gina Apostol’s Bibliolepsy is an interrogation of the self, cleverly disguised as a love letter to books and words. Following a young, upper-class Filipina during the denouement of Ferdinand Marcos’s dictatorship, the story sways along in a trance-like movement to Primi’s fleeting obsessions and observations about the chaos that is Manila in the mid-80s.
Bibliolepsy is also a fascinating survey in hindsight of the writer’s past. Those familiar with other works such as Insurrecto will find glimpses of the master to come—how her experimentation in terms of the form and narrative are beginning to awaken in Primi’s fragmented narration, as well as the metafictional analysis of the relationship between reader and writer. The title itself a satirical fabrication of the reader’s lustful frenzy for the written word. The novel delineates then steps over the lines between fiction and reality, with Primi believing “in a grace much deeper than vulgar empathy, tenuous as redemption.”
Although the narration at times moves into the territory of listless self-indulgence, Apostol’s nimble writing navigates this postmodern unraveling of identity and obsession, delivering the reader through the winding, oftentimes dizzying road into the self, all of its cavernous meanings, and the negative spaces in between.
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