My pick for this week is Alex Gilvarry’s “From the Memoirs of A Non-Enemy Combatant.” The novel tells the unlikely story of a young Filipino fashion designer, Boyet Hernandez, who arrives in New York with dreams of taking the fashion world by storm and unwittingly ends up a victim of the war on terror.
The story is told by Boy as a form of confession, written from his 8×6 cell in No Man’s Land, aka Guantanamo Bay. In it, Boy tells the story of his arrival in New York, his rise to fame in New York’s cutthroat fashion world, and how his association with a comically dubious Middle Eastern financier leads him to become known as the “Fashion Terrorist.”
What I liked about this book is its many moods; at times hilarious, at other times sobering. In No Man’s Land, Boy finds time to alter his prison-issued orange jumpsuit. Among the evidence used against him is the fact that his publicist is named Ben Laden (formerly McLaden). Yet Gilvarry also explores the dehumanizing and twisted language of the war on terror. Gilvarry’s book is ultimately a satire of both the fashion industry and the war on terror, two disparate worlds that are ripe for satire. But it’s also a meditation on the American Dream, and the immigrant experience, and how America treats those it deems outsiders.
Here’s some of my interview with Alex Gilvarry:
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It also has this great book trailer. Some of the language is NSFW:
–Chris Dall, senior producer