High fashion and homeland security clash in a masterful debut. Boyet Hernandez is a small man with a big American dream when he arrives in New York in 2002, fresh out of design school in Manila. With dubious financing and visions of Fashion Week runways, he sets up shop in a Brooklyn toothpick factory, pursuing his goals with monkish devotion (distractions of a voluptuous undergrad not withstanding). But mere weeks after a high-end retail order promises to catapult his (B)oy label to the big time, there's a knock on the door in the middle of the night: the flamboyant ex-Catholic Boyet is brought to Gitmo, handed a Koran, and locked away indefinitely on suspicion of being linked to a terrorist plot. Now, from his 6' x 8' cell, Boy prepares for the trial of his life with this intimate confession, even as his belief in American justice begins to erode. With a nod to Junot Diaz and a wink to Gary Shteyngart, Alex Gilvarry's first novel explores some of the most serious issues of our time with dark eviscerating wit.
Gilvarry's debut gracefully tackles politically charged subject matter, acknowledging the validity of the terrorist threat as well as the danger of stereotyping and fear-mongering. In 2002, Boyet Hernandez moves from Manila to New York with dreams of becoming a famous fashion designer. Four years later, he almost does just that, earning the name "Fashion Terrorist" after being arrested by Homeland Security and taken to Guantanamo, accused of war crimes that were part of a terrorist plot. As he is relentlessly questioned, Boyet shares the story of his life in-and "unrequited love for"-America, recounting the years leading up to his imprisonment with wit and compassion, curious as to where he went wrong. As an immigrant struggling to make ends meet, he accepted help from gangsters and men on international watch lists. However, he also socialized with the city's fashion elite, raising the question of how guilty one is by association. Like his idol Coco Chanel (arrested in 1943 for her Nazi ties), Boyet is thrust into a public spectacle of good and evil. An engaging victim of uncertain times, he's a protagonist who will appeal to readers of all political persuasions. (Jan.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
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January 05, 2012
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