Book cover for F. Sionil José's Po-on A Novel.
|Author||F. Sionil José|
|Language||English: Po-on (Philippines) or Dusk (USA), Tagalog: Po-on, French: Po-on|
|Publisher||Solidaridad Publishing House, Inc. (Philippines), Random House, Inc. (United States), De La Salle University Press (Philippines), Fayard (France)|
|LC Class||MLCME 98/00084 (P)|
Po-on A Novel is a novel written by Francisco Sionil José, a Filipino English-language writer. This is the original title when it was first published in the Philippines in the English language. In the United States, it was published under the title Dusk: A Novel. For this novel's translation into Tagalog, the title Po-on Isang Nobela – a direct translation of Po-on A Novel - was adopted.
Po-on A Novel is the beginning of the so-called Rosales Saga of F. Sionil José – a series of novels about Rosales, Pangasinan in the Philippines. The Rosales Saga has five parts, all of them individual but interrelated novels, composed namely of the following titles in terms of historical chronology: Po-on, Tree, My Brother, My Executioner, The Pretenders, and Mass. Among José's five-part novel series, the Rosales Saga, "Po-on" was the last to be written and published but the first in terms of story-telling chronology.
In Po-on begins the narration of the experiences of one generation of the Samson family, through Eustaqio “Istak” Samson, a farmer who joined the rebel forces. The peasant family reluctantly left their original hometown to escape further oppression from a corrupt Spanish priest and from the persecution of other colonial authorities. Their journey lead them to a new place at Rosales, Pangasinan. The novelist discusses the life and the origins of this family while embellished with the historical background of the Philippines during the late 1880s.
Alive in the novel were the concepts and the events that emanated during peacetime and wartime; even the status of the poor and the affluent, of the privileged and the powerful, and of those who have privileges, freedoms and rights. During Istak’s time during the final days of the 1800s, when Spain lost control of the Philippines, the bliss in Istak’s heart when the Philippine Republic finally achieved independence was just for a brief moment. Because that liberation was only short-lived: the ruling Spaniards were only replaced by a new group of strangers from a continent called the United States of America. This colonial transition occurred after the Spaniards were defeated by the Americans] during the Spanish–American War. In Po-on A Novel, José revisited these mutual chapters in both American and Philippine histories, together with the presentation of their social and psychological effects to the Philippine citizenry who had been under foreign occupiers from one time followed by another.
The events in Poon A Novel happened from 1880 to 1889, when an Ilocano family abandoned their beloved barrio in order to overcome the challenges to their survival in southern Pangasinan in the Philippines, and also to flee from the cruelty they received from the Spaniards. One of the principal characters of the novel is Istak, a Filipino from the Ilocano stock who was fluent in Spanish and Latin, a talent he inherited from the teachings of an old parish priest in Cabugao. He was an acolyte aspiring to become a priest. He was also knowledgeable in the arts of traditional medicine. The only hindrance to his goal of becoming a full-pledged priest was his racial origins. He lived in a period in Philippine history when it a possible Filipino uprising against the Spanish government was about to erupt, a time after the execution of three mestizos, namely Mariano Gómez, José Apolonio Burgos, and Jacinto Zamora (or the Gomburza, an acronym for the three) at Bagumbayan (now known as Rizal Park) in February, 1872. There were signs that a revolution will happen, despite of the lack of unity among the inhabitants of the Philippines islands at the time. Another approaching occurrence was the help the Filipinos would be receiving from the Americans in finally removing the governing Spaniards from the archipelago after three hundred years. The novel recreates the societal struggles in which the characters of Po-on were situated in, which includes the protagonist Istak 's personal search for life's meaning and for the true face of his beliefs at principles. Throughout this personal journey, he was accompanied by a dignity that is his alone Istak was assigned the task of delivering a message to General Emilio Aguinaldo, the leader of the Philippine revolutionaries, but died at the hands of American soldiers, on his way to delivering the message.
Reviews and analysis
Po-on the novel is only one part of F. Sionil José's Rosales Saga, the historical epic narrative composed of four other novels considered by the Filipino poet and literary critic Ricaredo Demetillo as "the first great Filipino novels written in English." Specifically, Po-on had been described by Random House as a work of fiction which is "more than" the character of a "historical novel", a book with "extraordinary scope and passion" that is "meaningful to Philippine literature." a book as meaningful to Philippine literature as One Hundred Years of Solitude is to Latin American literature. One Hundred Years of Solitude is the masterpiece of Latin America's Colombian novelist Gabriel García Márquez. Frank Gibney of The New York Times described the story-telling in José's Rosales Saga as being similar to the tradition and style found in the U.S.A. trilogy by the American novelist John Dos Passos.
- Jose, F. Sionil (Francisco Sionil) 1924-present, Spirit and Literature, Manoa - Volume 18, Number 1, 2006, pp. 51-57, University of Hawai'i Press, Project MUSE, Muse.jhu.edu (undated), retrieved on April 17, 2008
- Editorial Reviews, Amazon.com, retrieved on: April 17, 2008
- Overview (Synopsis) and Editorial Review, Barnes & Noble, Barnes&Noble.com, retrieved on: April 17, 2008
- "Dusk", About this Book, Random House, Inc., RandomHouse.ca, retrieved on: April 17, 2008
- Publishers Weekly, Amazon.com, retrieved on: April 17, 2008
- Gibney Frank, Everybody's Colony (page 1), A book review about F. Sionil Jose’s Dusk, New York: The Modern Library. 323 pp., The New York Times, NYTimes.com, August 2, 1998
- Gibney Frank, Everybody's Colony (page 2), A review about F. Sionil Jose’s Dusk (page 2), New York: The Modern Library. 323 pp., The New York Times, NYTimes.com, August 2, 1998
- BEST SELLERS: August 9, 1998, And Bear in Mind (Editors' choices of other recent books of particular interest), Dusk by F. Sionil Jose (Modern Library), “A microhistorical novel in which the author, focusing on the trials of a single family, educates the reader in Philippine history and in how the people of that country see themselves,” The New York Times, NYTimes.com, August 9, 1998
- Notable Books of 1998 (page 3), Dusk by F. Sionil Jose. (Modern Library), “A microhistorical novel in which the author, focusing on the trials of a single family, educates the reader in Philippine history and in how the people of that country see themselves.”
- About this book and Backcover details, Amazon.com
- Articles and Reviews about F. Sionil José’s Dusk A Novel (Po-on), “Everybody's Colony” by Frank Gibney, "Best Sellers: August 9, 1998," and "Notable Books of 1998," The New York Times, NYTIMES.com
- Notable Books of 1998, The New York Times, NYTimes.com, December 6, 1998
- Supnet Macansantos, Priscilla. "Rosales, Pangasinan, reclaims F. Sionil Jose," Lifestyle, Inquirer, Inquirer.net, April 23, 2007
- Blume Claudia. A Literary, Historic and Policital Trip with F. Sionil Jose a Personal View, Museum Volunteers Philippines
- Review of Dusk, the resilience of a Pinoy called Istak of Poon, Alex Maskara Pinoy, AlexMaskara.com (undated)