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Ilustrado opens with Crispin Salvador, lion of Philippine letters, dead in the Hudson River. His young student, Miguel, sets out to investigate the author’s fatal departure from his encroaching obscurity and the suspicious disappearance of an unfinished manuscript—a work that had been planned to not just return the once-great author to fame, but to expose the corruption behind rich families who have ruled the Philippines for generations.rnrnTo understand the death, Miguel scours the life, charting Salvador’s trajectory via his poetry, stories, interviews, novels, polemics, and memoirs, discovering a family saga of four generations tracing 150 years of a country’s history forged under the Spanish, Americans, and Filipinos themselves.

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