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Dream Jungle by Jessica Hagedorn October 28, 2004

4:15 p.m. Informal Seminar
Campus Center 375

8:00 p.m. Reading
Campus Center 375

UAlbany, Uptown Campus
Jessica Hagedorn
Jessica Hagedorn
(credit: Marion Ettlinger)

Born and raised in the Philippines, Jessica Hagedorn is celebrated for her bold, energetic, and tragicomic examinations of Filipino and Filipino-American experience in a wide variety of genres, including fiction, theater, poetry, and performance art. Her work frequently centers on the lives of social outsiders living in male-dominated cultures, most of them women, many of them artists, and some of them prostitutes, drug addicts, and drag queens.

Hagedorn captured national attention with her first novel "Dogeaters" (1990), an angry tale of social injustice set in the Philippines during the corrupt and bloodthirsty reign of Fernand and Imelda Marcos. The novel was nominated for the National Book Award, and received the American Book Award of the Before Columbus Foundation.

"a bizarre and memorably funny pop panorama of contemporary Filipino life. Hagedorn's energetic young go-getters amusingly bluff their way through a gaudy, scary landscape (Manila) that's equal parts MTV, Dantean Inferno and imitation America." - "USA Today"

"as sharp and fast as a street boy's razor... a rich small feast of a book." - "New York Times"

"This is the definitive novel of the encounter between the Philippines and America and their history of mutual illusion, antagonism, and ambiguous affection. It is a rich and satisfying work and certainly among the best novels I've read this year." - Robert Stone on "Dogeaters"

Hagedorn's newest novel is "Dream Jungle" (2003). Set in a remote rain forest in the Philippines, "Dream Jungle" is the tale of a newly-discovered Stone Age tribe and a Hollywood film crew that arrives to make a war film. The tribe may in fact be nothing more than a clever hoax. The fictional film, "Napalm Sunset," is modeled on Francis Ford Coppola's "Apocalypse Now," which was filmed in the Philippines in 1978.

"Dream Jungle is as lush as a tropical ecosystem, teeming with strange, beautiful, co-evolved forms of life. Hagedorn conjures a post colonialist 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"

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

Hagedorn's previous novel, "The Gangster of Love" (1996), follows the fortunes of two Filipino teenagers, brother and sister, after they immigrate with their mother to the United States.

"riding in a cab-honking, swerving, radio blasting-through a crowded foreign capital. More exhilarated than alarmed, [the reader] holds on for dear life." - Francine Prose, "New York Times Book Review"

" . . . a cornucopia of eccentric characters full of drama, bravado and sass. ... Ms. Hagedorn has emerged as one of the country's high priestesses of multicultural literature." - Somini Sengupta, New York Times

Hagedorn earned the American Book Award for her 1981 collection of poetry and short fiction, "Pet Food and Tropical Apparitions." Other books include the poetry/prose collections "Danger and Beauty" (1993), and "Dangerous Music" (1975).

A product of Filipino, Spanish, German, Irish, French and Chinese ancestry, Hagedorn has emerged as a widely quoted authority on multiracial identity, and what one "New York Times" interviewer called "the mixed-up, multicultural American muck that she has known in San Francisco and New York."

Hagedorn is also an accomplished and innovative performance artist. Her multimedia theater piece, "Mango Tango," was produced by Joseph Papp at the Public Theater of the New York Shakespeare Festival.

Jessica Hagedorn was also a guest at the New York State Writers Institute on November 18, 1997.

Writers Online Magazine Article