Acclaimed Filipino Writer Gina Apostol Bags Rome Prize, Teases Upcoming Novels

Her other novel "La Tercera," in the meantime, will be published soon.

Critically acclaimed novelist Gina Apostol continues to find new ways of championing Filipino storytelling through the perspective of the Filipino woman around the world. In Early May, she became a recipient of the 2022 to 2023 Rome Prize in Literature courtesy of the American Academy in Rome, Italy.

The Leyte-born Apostol, who is currently based in New York, joins the likes of Leslie Tenorio and Jessica Hagedorn as some of the Filipino writers who have won the award.

She has penned some of the best modern Filipino novels in recent memory, including the experimental Philippine National Book Award-winning works “Bibliolepsy” and “The Revolution According to Raymundo Mata.” Her debut novel in the United States, "Gun Dealers' Daughter," was published under W.W. Norton & Co. The book went on to win the prestigious PEN Open/Book Award.

The American Academy in Rome is "America's oldest overseas center for independent studies in advanced research in the arts and humanities." Winners are selected by independent juries composed of renowned artists and scholars.

Apostol's working title for the novel is "The Treatment of Paz." It will focus on painter Juan Luna's wife, Paz Pardo de Tavera, who he had tragically shot in Paris in 1892. Pardo de Tavera survived the gunshot but passed away from the wound a few weeks later.

In an interview on CNN's The Final Word With Rico Hizon, Apostol said that it is going to take a while before the novel is published. In the meantime, she is trying to finish her current book, which should be out soon.


"I have another novel coming out about the Filipino-American war again. It's called 'La Tercera.' That's coming out in January [2023]. I'll be working on getting that out the next few months," she says. "But I am only just starting 'The Treatment of Paz.' It's going to be a long haul because it is about the 1880s, 1890s. It's going to look at the Filipino revolution from the point of view of women."

The cover for her upcoming novel "La Tercera."

Photo by

"La Tercera," on the other hand, will be published under Soho Press. The book is heavily inspired by Apostol's visit to the Philippines in August 2019.

"I was returning home for the Manila book fest and I figured out how to revise the story that used to be called 'William McKinley's World.' And it turns out, I was returning home and I was so homesick that I kept thinking about my mother."

Recommended Videos

She continues: "I ended up rewriting a story about the Filipino-American War. It's now a story about my mom. So that's how it worked out."

In the interview, Apostol said she plans on traveling to the places where Juan Luna and Paz Pardo de Tavera lived, like Paris and, coincidentally, Rome.

"They met in Paris so I have to live in Paris for a few months, which I'll do during this summer. And then they honeymooned in Rome. Juan Luna learned to be a writer, I figured out, in Rome, not in Madrid," she explains. "So Rome is really important to their story. I think it's the place where Luna learned to be a painter, learned to be himself as an artist, and it's where he took Paz in the early years of their marriage, when they were happy."

For the writer, the award also shows us a glimpse of what the future of Filipino storytelling holds. "It tells us how important our stories are to the world," she said.

More Videos You Can Watch
About The Author
Bryle B. Suralta
Assistant Section Editor
Bryle B. Suralta is the assistant section editor of Esquire Philippines.
View Other Articles From Bryle
Latest Feed
Load More Articles
Connect With Us