State of War by Ninotchka Rosca Online

State of War
Title : State of War
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9789712716942
Language : English
Format Type : Newsprint
Number of Pages : 382

An endless festival amidst an endless war is the central image of this stunning novel about the Philippines of the Marcos era, a time of brutality, treachery, and betrayed passion.As the novel opens, our focus, in the Book of Acts, is on three young people—Eliza Hansen, Adrian Banyaga, and Anna Villaverde—as they arrive on the island of K_____ for the annual festival. AdriAn endless festival amidst an endless war is the central image of this stunning novel about the Philippines of the Marcos era, a time of brutality, treachery, and betrayed passion.As the novel opens, our focus, in the Book of Acts, is on three young people—Eliza Hansen, Adrian Banyaga, and Anna Villaverde—as they arrive on the island of K_____ for the annual festival. Adrian is rich, innocent, handsome—the son of a leading family; Anna has been widowed in the rebel struggle and was herself detained and tortured by the military; Eliza, the beautiful daughter of a courtesan, is now the object of the perverted desires of the depraved Colonel Amor, Anna's tormentor.As the heat of the carnival brio rises, so do intimations of revolution, for somewhere in the jungle the rebel leader Guevara is plotting a terrorist act: a bomb will be placed at the speakers' stand timed to explode when the governor appears. Anna makes contact with the rebels, while Eliza plots to kill Amor for what he has done to her friend. And Adrian is captured and drugged by the colonel.As the tension builds, the novel moves back in time, in the Book of Numbers, on a headlong, magical, sometimes hallucinatory reprise of Filipino history and the history of the families of the three young people. We learn of the Japanese atrocities, Filipino greed and treachery, American coldness and venality. We learn how Adrian's fortune was made, how Anna became the strange and silent thinker she is, how Eliza is distantly related by European blood to Anna. And we meet characters whose literally fabulous—a woman who forces icons to respond prayers, a distillery owner who is also master of forty-two ways of self-indulgence, a self-contained maid who determines her master's fat, a boy who falls in love with saxophone, a teenage Chinese girl with bound feet who dreams of the return of the Manchu Dynasty, a German chemist unable to brew beer...Finally, in the Book of Revelations, we reawaken to the present: once again we are at the festival on K_____, about to witness the novel's shattering conclusion, its terrifying finale.Like Isabel Allende's The House of The Spirits, Ninotchka Rosca's novel is both a work of art and a powerful illumination of an entire culture and a country in conflict. Her achievement is timeless as well as masterful.

State of War Reviews

  • K.D. Absolutely

    Definitely a must-read for all Filipinos who still believe that the Marcoses are not guilty. This is also one of the books that I would like our President Rodrigo Duterte to read. Through the backstories of the three main characters, Eliza Hansen, Adrian Banyaga, and Anna Villaverde in the second part of the book called The Book of Numbers, he would have a good review of our history as a nation. Don't get me wrong, this isn't a history book, but through what happened to these characters and how [...]

  • DC

    This is a book not to be taken lightly. This is a book that requires a steady head and deep thinking. This is a dangerous book.It deals with the history of the Filipino people, from pre-Spanish (with the priestesses babaylan who wore gold trinkets & traded with the Chinese) to Spanish (with the friars and other foreigners, such as Germans, who come to this godforsaken land to grab something that is not theirs) to American (with Hey, Joe! and chocolates aplenty) to the current (with the beaut [...]

  • Joe

    Rosca's prose can be balletic, frenzied even. But a brilliant start to the novel is completely subverted by a 200 page exploration of one of the main characters' blood lines. The final 80 or so pages, which return us to the action proper fails to both regain its momentum and to capitalize much on the back story provided. In the end, trying to cover too much ground, to speak to too much of the history of the Philippines, the overall design of the novel is unfortunately hectic. Read the tremendous [...]

  • Tito Quiling, Jr.

    We've been told to read this novel back in college but I never had the chance and the interest to purchase a copy.And I regret not reading State of War by Ninotchka Rosca earlier. The book is divided into three chapters -- The Book of Acts, the Book of Numbers, and the Book of Revelations. Among the three, I particularly liked the second half. State of War is a story about three characters: Adrian, Anna, and Eliza, whose lives are inherently intertwined because of their ancestors' history.Inevit [...]

  • Annalisa

    "She lost all consciousness of who or where she was, knowing only that this would be the biggest, the best in her life, that henceforth she would suffer if he were not in her, beside her, on her, under her, holy mother of God who must have known the same pleasure once, forgive her."

  • Anne

    This is so amazing I want to cry. Can't contain all these feels. To review (when I'm not busy anymore).

  • John Levi Masuli

    The first part (Book of Acts) of this sort-of historical novel bored me. It was about three young people, leading different lives, attending a festival amid an ongoing dictatorship. Yet the second part (Book of Numbers) blew me away. Rosca displayed her deft narrative skills, pulling off something like a 100 Years of Solitude type of awesomeness. The final part is not satisfying, but still the book is great. Sorry for my post-reading incoherence.

  • Liza Macalandag

    Reading this very beautifully written book was an excruciating experience - it tugged deep in my Filipino heart.

  • Jersey

    Reviewing this now after the peak of protests against the Marcos burial seems to solidify one of the underlying themes of State of War: the ability of a nation to forget, or at least, its failure to recover the whole truth of its past. History is a battlefield of perspectives and most of the time, the victors, the oppressors, and the dominant characters are the ones who have the chance to become its writers. In this novel, Rosca tries to re-create history from the perspective of the "victims." S [...]

  • Bay

    Ninotchka Rosca's book, State of War, tells one of the Philippines' dark past: Martial Law. She, in my opinion, is using the endless parties in the book as an allegory of covering the atrocities of the military. Being distracted and drunk all the time, the people in the island of K------ were oblivious of what is happening around them. Even when the characters were chased by the military, the people seemed not to care to help. The only exception is the transvestite, who brought Eliza a gun. Anot [...]

  • vaneza

    i found this book very hard to read, not just because of the usage of really deep words, but also because im not used to reading books by filipino authors because 9 times out of 10, its gonna be about philippine history. and yes, this book is one of those. from the start of the book of acts to the beginning of the book of numbers, i was confused. so confused, and i still am. there were so many characters and so many points of views that it was hard to keep track even though i was writing notes. [...]

  • Neely

    Written in the early 80's, Rosca's State of War is a novel of reclaiming memory and culture/ power after years of Spanish and US colonization of the Philippines. The novel moves in three parts: The Book Of Acts, The Book of Numbers and The Book of Revelations, wherein Rosca depicts the story of three young filipin@s who are caught in a sort of love triangle with one another and their country, although divided by their politics and social rankings. From the present day, the novel takes a step bac [...]

  • Lanie Macatangay-bautista

    this was an assigned novel back in college. content-wise, there's nothing that makes this novel any different from any other anti-government novels out there. the funny thing is, we even had a book signing in school. had mine signed, but was impressed with neither the book nor the author. if you have to read it, then you should, because it's an ok book. but if you have to buy it, don't. it's just a waste of time and money. you're better off reading factual books instead. i didn't hang on to my c [...]

  • Thomas Simmons

    No bibliography, just inside sources. Strangely enough that is the primary criticism for tis book, but the content has not been attacked specifically. It is not unlike the expose Richard Clark gave the Bush administration in "Against All Enemies" wherein the author's reputation served to carry the weight of credibility. Anyway, this is just as scathing and expose by a reputable source

  • Stephanie Chu

    Not a fan of philippine activists movements, but curious now that I have the time.And since it is to them we have the time,I needed to start reading her books. Could have been a great beach book, philippine style, but with the deeply rooted stories of what it was like to be them during those days. Deeply grateful for her perspectives.

  • Reden

    Quote from the book: Everything in this country happens only in the morning. Truly a great novel. Comparable to Franz Kafka's works.I wonder why Ninotchka Rosca (the author) did not write more novels. Hope she does write another one.

  • Devine Garaza

    it was amazing:)nung una parang ayoko syng bshin ksi nga andami but then nung nsa book of numbers na ako, grabe!

  • Arisa Takagi

    All i can say is: BIASED

  • BoekenTrol

    Ik heb dit boek niet gelezen. Het zat in een boekendoos die ik gekregen hebt via bookcrossing.Het inmiddels daar geregistreerd en gaat binnenkort op reis.

  • Nick Armbrister

    a good read. under a military dictatorship ppl plot, party and live and also die. written in the style of liz hand. excellent.

  • Jollene

    the language is beautiful and vivid, and the content is staunchly political. i loved it.

  • Jake Dua


  • Kim Murasaki

    Rosca has accomplished a great feat in writing this novel: an account of our history, of our roots, written in a kaleidoscopic prose that will make us remember our forgotten history.

  • Christianloide