With (originally published in the Philippines as ), F. Sionil Jose begins his five-novel Rosales Saga, which the poet and critic Ricaredo Demetillo called "the first great Filipino novels written in English." Set in the 1880s, records the exile of a tenant family from its village and the new life it attempts to make in the small town of Rosales. Here commences the epic tale of a family unwillingly thrown into the turmoil of history. But this is more than a historical novel; it is also the eternal story of man's tortured search for true faith and the larger meaning of existence. Jose has achieved a fiction of extraordinary scope and passion, a book as meaningful to Philippine literature as is to Latin American literature.
"The foremost Filipino novelist in English, his novels deserve a much wider readership than the Philippines can offer."-Ian Buruma, New York Review of Books
"Tolstoy himself, not to mention Italo Svevo, would envy the author of this story."-Chicago Tribune
Written in elegant and precise prose, contains two novels in F. Sionil José's classic . The saga, begun in José's novel Dusk, traces the life of one family, and that of their rural town of Rosales, from the Philippine revolution against Spain through the arrival of the Americans to, ultimately, the Marcos dictatorship.
The first novel here, , is told by the loving but uneasy son of a land overseer. It is the story of one young man's search for parental love and for his place in a society with rigid class structures. The tree of the title is a symbol of the hopes and dreams-too often dashed-of the Filipino people.
The second novel, , follows the misfortunes of two brothers, one the editor of a radical magazine who is tempted by the luxury of the city, the other an activist who is prepared to confront all of his enemies, real or imagined. The critic I. R. Cruz called it "a masterly symphony" of injustice, women, sex, and suicide.
Together in , they form the second volume of the five-novel Rosales Saga, an epic the Chicago Tribune has called "a masterpiece."
With these two passionate, vividly realistic novels, The Pretenders and Mass, F. Sionil José concludes his epochal Rosales Saga. The five volumes span much of the turbulent modern history of the Philippines, a beautiful and embattled nation once occupied by the Spanish, overrun by the Japanese, and dominated by the United States. The portraits painted in The Samsons, and in the previously published Modern Library paperback editions of Dusk and Don Vicente (containing Tree and My Brother, My Executioner), are vivid renderings of one family from the village of Rosales who contend with the forces of oppression and human nature.
Antonio Samson of The Pretenders is ambitious, educated, and torn by conflicting ideas of revolution. He marries well, which leads to his eventual downfall. In Mass, Pepe Samson, the bastard son of Antonio, is also ambitious, but in different ways. He comes to Manila mainly to satisfy his appetites, and after adventures erotic and economic, finds his life taking a surprising turn. Together, these novels form a portrait of a village and a nation, and conclude one of the masterpieces of Southeast Asian literature.
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