“Brilliant . . . Miguel Syjuco is his country’s most original and unflinching literary voice.” —Salman Rushdie
"It’s a rare novel that leaves you reeling simultaneously with admiration, exhaustion, amazement at its author’s reach and skill, and desolation at the world it spreads out before you . . . [A] raging protest of a book.” —James Lasdun, The New York Times Book Review (Editors' Choice)
From Miguel Syjuco, the winner of the Man Asian Literary Prize for Ilustrado, I Was the President's Mistress!! is an unflinching satire about power, corruption, sex, and all the other topics you were told never to discuss in polite company.
First came the Sexy-Sexygate scandal. Then an impeachment trial. Finally, a battle royale for the presidency. At the center of this political typhoon is Vita Nova, the most famous movie star in the Philippines and a former paramour of the country’s most powerful man. Now, for the first time ever, she bares herself completely in a tell-all memoir that puts the sensational in sensationalistic.
The setting: a sweating, heaving country. The time: right now. The plot: a drug war rages, an assassin brandishes a pistol, a damsel rises from ashes to power, and a government teeters on the brink. Among the players: a dreamer who boxed and acted his way to the presidency, his Koran-toting nemesis in the senate, a horny bishop, a cowboy turned warlord, a poor little rich boy dying with his dynasty, a washed-up reporter redeemed by one last scoop, a high-school sweetheart driven mad by decades of disappointment, and an American naval officer tempting our heroine with a way out. As Vita warns, viewer discretion is advised.
In this masterful and audacious novel, Miguel Syjuco’s signature style—hilarious, insightful, playful, provocative—animates thirteen indelible voices whose stories present a cross-section of a complicated society. I Was the President’s Mistress!! hurtles headlong into love, politics, faith, history, memory, and the ongoing war over who will tell the stories the world shall know as truth.
“[I Was the President’s Mistress!!] has a headlong, assertive energy and a transgressive bent . . . Syjuco’s most irreverent set pieces reveal how cultures can get a woman like Vita exactly backward—rather than the know-nothing sinner she’s dismissed as, she’s the scapegoat for everyone else’s greed and ineptitude . . . Ingenious.”
“This brilliant black comedy is a wild, and wildly unpredictable, ride through the dark side of the Philippines. Miguel Syjuco is his country’s most original and unflinching literary voice.”
—Salman Rushdie, author of Quichotte
“Nobody writes like Miguel Syjuco. A triumph.”
—Elif Batuman, author of The Idiot
“A super-typhoon of a novel. A Babel of rogues, survivors and shape-shifters. A polemic against corruption and greed. A sassy, swerving mini-series, touched by grace and beauty. A Filipino Bonfire of the Vanities for our beleaguered times. An uncompromising work of art.”
—David Mitchell, author of Utopia Avenue
“A tour de force—bawdy, fearless, insightful, delightful.”
—Kamila Shamsie, author of Home Fire
“I Was the President’s Mistress!! is a tour de force. Virtuosic, kinetically funny Miguel Syjuco can riff on just about anything—from celebrity gossip to Internet troll farms, pop music to the Philippine electoral circus—as he explores our era’s thorniest questions of class, gender, power, and violence. At the heart of this blistering satire is Vita Nova, a heroine for the ages, whose rise to fame and epic romantic odyssey stop the breath and stoke the conscience like nothing else I’ve ever read.”
—Mia Alvar, author of In the Country
“An urgent book, and a necessary one: a Tyrants Destroyed for the twenty-first century.” —Tom McCarthy, author of The Making of Incarnation