"Roley's debut in FilAm literature--in American literature, more properly--was auspicious and important. He dramatized (for the first time in novel form, I believe) the plight of thoroughly assimilated and Americanized immigrant young men of Philippine ancestry...American Son is brilliantly written. Roley is one of the most adept writers I have read at using spare descriptions for crisp characterization...
Roley's The Last Mistress of Jose Rizal is an appearance equally auspicious to American Son: a demonstration of the prowess of this writer in the middle of a strong literary career. These short stories constitute the continuation and expansion of the family in American Son...
American Son and The Last Mistress of Jose Rizal are Brian Ascalon Roley’s paeans to diasporic FilAm life: the earlier novel’s two sons finding their American-ness at violent odds with their Filipino-ness, then the later collection’s various family members striving to bridge the old and the new, the Philippines and the US. Roley’s American Son and The Last Mistress of Jose Rizal should be required reading for all of us in the diaspora, but don’t read it like it’s required! Enjoy."
Professor of English and Editor Emeritus of The North American Review
writing in Halo Halo Review (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
"Ambitious...beautiful...The Last Mistress of Jose Rizal is a story that deserves a second read."
"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)
"This collection was one of the most highly anticipated reads for this year!"
--Professor Stephen Hong Sohn, author of Racial Asymmetries: Asian American Fictional Worlds (American Literature Initiative)
asianamlitfans.livejournal.com (click to read full review)