Cover image for Don Vicente : two novels
Don Vicente : two novels
José, F. Sionil (Francisco Sionil), 1924-
Uniform Title:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Modern Library, 1999.
Physical Description:
430 pages ; 21 cm
General Note:
"Modern Library paperback original"--T.p. verso.
Tree -- My brother, my executioner.
Added Title:
My brother, my executioner.
Format :


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Written in elegant and precise prose, Don Vicente contains two novels in F. Sionil Jos#65533;'s classic Rosales Saga . The saga, begun in Jos#65533;'s novel Dusk, traces the life of one family, and that of their rural town of Rosales, from the Philippine revolution against Spain through the arrival of the Americans to, ultimately, the Marcos dictatorship.

The first novel here, Tree , is told by the loving but uneasy son of a land overseer. It is the story of one young man's search for parental love and for his place in a society with rigid class structures. The tree of the title is a symbol of the hopes and dreams--too often dashed--of the Filipino people.

The second novel, My Brother, My Executioner , follows the misfortunes of two brothers, one the editor of a radical magazine who is tempted by the luxury of the city, the other an activist who is prepared to confront all of his enemies, real or imagined. The critic I. R. Cruz called it "a masterly symphony" of injustice, women, sex, and suicide.

Together in Don Vicente , they form the second volume of the five-novel Rosales Saga, an epic the Chicago Tribune has called "a masterpiece."

Author Notes

F. Sionil José was born in Rosales, Philippines on December 3, 1924. He was educated at the University of Santo Tomas. While working as a journalist in Manila, he wrote short stories and eventually novels in his spare time. In the late 1950s, he founded the Philippine branch of PEN. In 1965, he started his own publishing house Solidaridad and a year later started publishing the journal Solidarity.

His first novel, The Pretenders, was published in 1962. Since then he has written twelve novels, seven short story collections, a book of verse, and five books of essays. His other works include Three Filipino Women, Sins, Dusk, Don Vincente, Ermita, and Vibora! He received the Ramon Magsaysay Award for Journalism, Literature, and Creative Communication Arts in 1980 and the Pablo Neruda Centennial Award in 2004.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 2

Publisher's Weekly Review

The publisher has chosen to combine two novels (Tree and My Brother, My Executioner) in this second volume of the reissued Rosales Saga by Filipino writer Jos‚. The two works, first published in Manila in 1924, are loosely held together by geographyÄboth take place in the PhilippinesÄand by the presence of Don Vincente Asperri, a rapacious feudal landlord. In the first, less interesting, section, a middle-aged man looks back on his youth as the son of the overseer for Don Vincente. Characters amble across the stage, tell their story or anecdote, then disappear: an old priest lives in abject poverty in order to save money for church renovations; a young man learns he cannot fight the establishment when he is betrayed by the very people he wants to help. The longer section deals with Luis Asperri, the illegitimate son of the "all-powerful, all-devouring" Don Vincente. Luis and his half-brother Victor (same mother, different fathers) choose opposing sides in a peasant uprising. Luis, though Don Vincente's heir, considers himself liberal. He writes poetry and edits a left-wing magazine, but in many ways he is as heartless as his father. At Don Vincente's insistence, in order to keep the family fortune intact, Luis marries a cousin instead of his city girlfriend, with tragic results all around. When the chips are down, he will not divest himself of his lands as his brother Victor, leader of the revolutionary Huks, demands. Jos‚Äfounding president of the Philippines PEN Center, bookseller, and editor and publisher of a literary journalÄfills the story with melodramatic events (a mad woman in an attic, a deformed baby) and with heavy-handed political rhetoric, perhaps better suited to essays. As a result, both narratives seem somewhat unsophisticated. (July) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

The second in the prominent Filipino author's five-volume "Rosales Saga" (following Dusk), this two-part novel covers Filipino history in the 1950s, focusing on the social inequality rooted in the plantation system. Jos‚ details the harmful effects for both the oppressed and their oppressors, chronicling the birth of an uprising to transform Filipino society. The unnamed son of a plantation manager narrates "Tree," the first part of the novel. He recalls awakening to his father's culpability in subjugating other Filipinos in his hometown. The father works for a more powerful landowner, Don Vicente, whose illegitimate son Luis gives voice to the second, definitely stronger part, "My Brother, My Executioner." Once a victim of the system, Luis goes to live with Don Vicente, reaping the benefits of his father's exploitation. He also suffers deeply when he must leave his family behind amidst harsh, impoverished living conditions. This intense work is recommended for most collections.ÄFaye A. Chadwell, Univ. of Oregon Libs., Eugene (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.