ABOUT THE AUTHOR
(for long bio click here)
Brian Ascalon Roley was raised in Los Angeles of multiracial Filipino descent. He writes in several genres.
Brian is the author of the award-winning novel, AMERICAN SON (W.W. Norton, 2001; Christian Bourgois Editeur, 2006), which was a Los Angeles Times Best Book, New York Times Notable Book, Kiriyama Pacific Rim Prize finalist, and winner of the 2003 Association of Asian American Studies Prose Book Award, among other honors. His work was also featured in the California Council for the Humanities statewide reading campaign of 2004 (involving libraries, book groups and classrooms across the state), and continues to be taught in classrooms at many high schools and universities across the country and internationally.
His fiction, literary essays and poetry have appeared in numerous journals and anthologies, including Mixed: An Anthology of Short Fiction on the Multiracial Experience (W.W. Norton), Charlie Chan is Dead 2: An Anthology of Contemporary Asian American Fiction (Penguin), and several best selling anthologies in the Philippines.
Currently he is an Associate Professor of English at Miami University of Ohio and spends most of his time with his family in Cincinnati and California.
He recently finished a new story collection, The Last Mistress of Jose Rizal, forthcoming in Spring 2016, while on leave as a Visiting Fellow at the University of Cambridge.
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"Heartbreaking...American Son is a gripping book." Aleksandar Hemon, New York Times
"Hard-hitting and brash, this debut novel takes a cold, clear-eyed look at the American immigrant experience...This is a powerhouse story of vulnerable strangers living in a brutal, alien land told with stylish restraint, bare-knuckled realism and tender yet tough clarity." -- Publisher's Weekly
"Touching, disturbing." -- Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center, Book Dragon Notable Book
"Roley writes with assurance, grace and insight, and he plays expertly with our perceptions and expectations...And Roley is one young writer with something important to say: he has fused a coming-of-age story with a variant on the American immigrant saga, and the result is both explosive and illuminating." --Jonathan Kirsch, Los Angeles Times Book Review
"Penetrating...Roley explores this omnipresent yet usually invisible story of contemporary American immigrant life with an easy exactitude and a dry, unmerciful eye...What's most memorable, and most disturbing, is how Roley subtly renders the difference between those who make the journey to America and those who are born out of their hopes...Clean, beautifully understated prose." --Suzy Hansen, Salon.com
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"This beautiful collection of stories revolves around generational experiences of interconnected Filipino families…elegant…The sudden revelations in these stories make them very raw, convincing, nostalgic yet lyrical and the endings are filled with a faint whiff of sorrow that will never completely die.
One very good reason to love this book? I have a particular liking for Jhumpa Lahiri’s way of writing and what she chooses to write about: the Bengali Indian diaspora and Indian Immigrants. The Last Mistress of Jose Rizal is an enchanting book for this same reason. As a reader I can immediately identify with all the characters: individuals who have their roots somewhere else than where they now ‘choose’ to belong. Life changes, friends change, families stay back in another country or move to a new place, language changes, memories change and for that matter, in a strange way History also packs itself in our baggage and moves with us."
Newpages (click for full review)
“A grandmother obsesses over her granddaughter’s un-Catholic upbringing. A son visits his estranged father at a hospital where he is under a suicide watch. A family imports a young maid from the Philippines, and all hell, with love, breaks loose. In the eyes of a dog, a boy reconnects with his deceased father. A war veteran migrates to Los Angeles and moves into the overcrowded home of his sister’s family to take care of their aging mother.
Written with seemingly effortless grace and in clean-eyed prose, the short stories in Roley’s long-awaited collection are poignant, intimate, and heartbreaking. These interlinked narratives—all the characters are from the same multi-generational family—offer refreshing perspectives of the Philippine experience in America and what it means to be a Filipino, or a Filipino American, in the country of dreams where they have to constantly make do with the odds; surrender to the scars of war, childhood, and family; endure failed hopes and loves; and grapple with the contradictions of living in between cultures, homes, and memories.”
--R. Zamora Linmark, author of Leche and These Books Belong to Ken Z
"This collection was one of the most highly anticipated reads for this year! ...fans of American Son (and of Asian American Literature) should reserve some reading time for Roley’s story collection and hope that he won’t make us wait as long for a third publication."
--Professor Stephen Hong Sohn, author of Racial Asymmetries: Asian American Fictional Worlds (American Literature Initiative)
asianamlitfans.livejournal.com (click to read full review)