The Last Mistress of Jose Rizal

E-book – $17.95

ISBN 978-0-8101-3323-5

Trade Paper – $17.95

ISBN 978-0-8101-3322-8
Publication Date
April 2016
Page Count
168 pages
Trim Size
6 x 9

The Last Mistress of Jose Rizal

Brian Ascalon Roley

The Last Mistress of Jose Rizal is a collection of stories that focuses on multigenerational tales of intertwined Filipino families. Set in the huge yet relatively overlooked and misunderstood Filipino diaspora in the United States, this book follows characters who live in the shadow of the histories of the United States and its former colony in Asia, the Philippines. The impact of immigration and separation filters through the stories as a way of communing with or creating distance between individuals and family, country, or history.

Roley’s work has been praised by everyone from New York Times literary critics to APIA author Helen Zia for his bare, poetic style and raw emotionalism. In the collection’s title story, a woman living with her daughter and her daughter’s American husband fears the loss of Filipino tradition, especially Catholicism, as she tries to secretly permeate her granddaughter’s existence with elements of her ancestry. In "New Relations," an American-born son introduces his mother to his Caucasian bride and her family, only to experience his first marital discord around issues of politesse, the perception of culture, and post-colonial legacies. Roley’s delicately nuanced collection often leaves the audience with the awkwardness that comes from things lost in translation or entangled in generational divides.

About the Author

BRIAN ASCALON ROLEY is the author of the award-winning novel American Son (2001), which was a Los Angeles Times Best Book, New York Times Notable Book, Kiriyama Prize finalist, and winner of the 2003 Association of Asian American Studies Prose Book Award, among other honors. He is an English professor at Miami University of Ohio.

"Written in a seemingly effortless grace and clean-eyed prose, the short stories in Roley’s long-awaited collection, The Last Mistress of Jose Rizal, 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

"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

"Ambitious as the story is, the events that transpire on page are often mundane—and beautiful in their simplicity . . . The Last Mistress of Jose Rizal is a story that deserves a second read." —International Examiner

"American Son
and 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." —Vince Gotera Editor Emeritus of The North American Review writing in Halo Halo Review