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Dream Jungle
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Dream Jungle

By Jessica Hagedorn
2003, 325 pages, hardback.
Book Description from the Cover Flaps
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Book Description from the Cover Flaps

Jessica Hagedorn has received wide acclaim for her edgy, high-energy novels chronicling the clash and embrace of American and Filipino cultures, and she earned a National Book Award nomination for her novel Dogeaters. With Dream Jungle, her most complex and accomplished novel to date, she achieves a new level of narrative daring.

Two seemingly unrelated events occur in the Philippines - the discovery of the Taobo, an ancient lost tribe living in a remote mountainous area, and the arrival of an American, celebrity-studded film crew, there to make an epic Vietnam War movie. But the "lost tribe" just might be a clever hoax masterminded by a brooding wealthy iconoclast - and the Hollywood movie seems doomed as the cast and crew continue to self-destruct in a cloud of drugs and their own egos.

As the consequences of these events play out, four unforgettable characters find themselves drawn together, sometimes passionately, sometimes violently. The iconoclast playboy, Zamora de Legazpi, renowned for being the first outsider to make contact with the Taobo tribe, cannot escape the boredom and frustration of his corrupt class. Rizalina, Zamora's resourceful and intelligent young servant, flees Zamora's estate, only to get trapped in the seedy underworld of sex tourism. The American actor Vincent Moody, whose personal demons cause him to feel detached from the other actors and the film crew, becomes entangled and then obsessed with Rizalina. Paz Marlowe, a writer, returns to the Philippines from Los Angeles when her mother dies, and stays to witness the fate of Zamora, the movie, and the country.

At once a sensual unfolding of a culture and a razor-sharp indictment of colonialism. Dream Jungle is a story of a tumultuous country in crisis that evokes the desperate beauty and the rank corruption of the Philippines from the height of the Marcos era in the mid-1970s to the end of the twentieth century. Like the works of Gabriel Garcia Marquez, it explores the many sides of culture, identity, and class through the eyes of larger-than-life characters with diverse yet equally compelling voices.

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Comments from Back Cover

"In a panoramic tapestry, Jessica Hagedorn weaves many stories of the quest for identity, cultural and personal. A novel of marvelous invention, Dream Jungle searches beyond the comforts of illusion and entertainments of the virtual to the unanswerable riddles of the past and arrives at the reality of the present."
- Maureen Howard, author of Big as Life

"Dream Jungle is as beautiful as summer, as unforgettable as heartbreak, and Zamora de Legazpi is one of the most troubled and fascinating protagonists in recent memory. Another luminous performance by a writer who sours from strength to strength."
- Junot Diaz, author of Drown

Dream Jungle is as lush as a tropical ecosystem, teeming with strange, beautiful, co-evolved forms of life. Hagedorn conjures a postcolonialist Philippines, at once innocent and corrupt, gorgeous and rotten, where man is still an ethnographic curiosity, and where the hubris of Hollywood can resculpt a history and a landscape. It's a world on the cusp. Everything is up for grabs, and desire works a corrosive kind of magic.
- Ruth Ozeki, author of All Over Creation

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Background on Jessica Hagedorn

Jessica Hagedorn is an acclaimed novelist, playwright, poet, and screenwriter. Born and raised in the Philippines, she moved to the United States in her teens. Hagedorn lives in New York City.

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