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Novelist Gina Apostol wins Rome Prize for Literature, to pen story on Juan Luna’s wife Paz

Novelist Gina Apostol wins Rome Prize for Literature, to pen story on Juan Luna’s wife Paz

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  • “Books about the Philippines on the world stage are important because the country’s history is significant world-historically and yet generally unseen,” Apostol tells the Inquirer

“Gun Dealers’ Daughter” and “Insurrecto” author Gina Apostol is among the four winners of the Rome Prize for Literature.

The award is given to scholars and artists selected by the American Academy in Rome and grants them a study fellowship at the academy. Apostol, according to an Inquirer article, “will be given a stipend, workspace, and room and board at the academy’s campus in Rome.” 

Apostol will be working on her novel featuring Paz Pardo de Tavera, the murdered wife of painter Juan Luna. In an interview with Inquirer, the novelist said about her proposal: “What I told the jury was that books about the Philippines on the world stage are important because the country’s history is significant world-historically and yet generally unseen.” 

Her proposed novel, which she currently calls “The Treatment of Paz,” may be expected to have a layered narrative as with her previous works. “It’s about looking at women within a radical movement—how are women perceived, treated, and understood? So it interrogates class and race and gender in revolutionary times… This book should mainly be a domestic drama—it’s a drama really of domestic abuse. But the domestic abuser is a national hero. It’s a huge conundrum for me because I admire Luna very much as an artist,” she told the Inquirer.

“Portrait of a Lady” by Juan Luna. It was mistakenly referred to as “Paz Pardo de Tavera” as many had previously misidentified the painting’s subject to be Luna’s wife. The painting, now housed at the National Museum, is also the subject of urban legends. Photo from Inquirer/Ambeth Ocampo

Before heading to Rome to begin researching for her “Paz” novel, Apostol is set to release “La Tercera” in January 2023, which also figures women and the revolution.

Apostol’s novels have always been touted as brilliant, provocative, but underlyingly also funny despite bearing (or all the while balancing) serious and historical notes—telling of the author’s skill in maneuvering through complex narratives.

[READ: Gina Apostol is not in the business of making people feel comfortable

Her third novel, “Gun Dealers’ Daughter,” won the PEN Open Book Award in 2013. It has also regained prominence thanks to its inclusion in various lists for books featuring the Marcos era, and is among the many martial law-related titles recently sold out.

Nolisoli.ph © 2020. Hinge Inquirer Publications, Inc.

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