Sunday, February 13, 2022


Gina Apostol is the author of the novels Insurrecto, Gun Dealers' Daughter, and The Revolution According to Raymundo Mata. She is the recipient of a PEN/Open Book Award and two Philippine National Book Awards. Her essays and stories have appeared in The New York Times, Los Angeles Review of Books, Foreign Policy, Gettysburg Review, and Massachusetts Review. She lives in New York City and western Massachusetts and grew up in Tacloban, Leyte, in the Philippines.

Apostol applied the Page 69 Test to her new novel, Bibliolepsy, and reported the following:
Page 69 is toward the end of Part One of the novel, which has two parts. Smack in the middle of this page, chapter 13 (out of 16 chapters in Part One) begins. This chapter 13 is called "A bibliolept's admission." The main character Primi's parents, Prospero and Prima, have died, she is now an orphan along with her sister Anna, and she's left to the mercies of her negligent grandmother, the Abuelita, and the Abuelita's lawyer, Atorni Sugba (the word means roast in Waray), who sexually assaults Primi in a library. Primi defends herself with a book, but, she says, it's not the book you think:
“Do not imagine that the folio of plays in the glass case contained The Tempest, featuring Caliban and Miranda, who had a dying father named Prospero. The girl, I imagine, became a bookworm at the death of her father. After all, he had been wizard of books, which, you might say, became her own form of Ariel—Prospero-less on an island, she had to make do with the sprite of words, the airy immortality of texts.

“No, no, it was no such thing. The folio was a book of histories, those Henrys and Richards, now unaccounted for, traded for the karaoke.”
So this page has tons of things about books, allusions and analogies and cathexes, as I would expect, because this novel overwhelmingly is about books and the effect books have on the character, Primi.

From page 69 readers would get a good idea of the book’s center, its main topic—books and the overwhelming lust and love for books and words that are this novel’s theme and purpose. They would get the book’s voice and tone. So yes, they would get a good sense of the book, as they would with any page at all they’d open up to in the text. It’s a very cohesive novel that way, I think—it’s cohesive in its voice and its singular focus on that theme of book-love, or bibliolepsy, as the narrator Primi calls it.
Visit Gina Apostol's website.

Q&A with Gina Apostol.

--Marshal Zeringue