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Breaking Down American Barriers: Meet Gina Apostol

By: Kimberly Charles

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Gina Apostol

Novelist, teacher, and breast cancer survivor, Gina Apostol, has made her mark on American literature all while being an example of resilience and imagination.

In 2012, Apostol published her prize-winning novel, The Gun Lovers’ Daughter, which traces the entanglement of a bookish rich girl with the communist movement in the Philippines. For her American debut, she received the PEN Open Book Award in 2013. The judges’ citation for the book’s PEN award: “You will feel sure (and you will be correct) that you have discovered a great fiction writer in the midst of making literary history.”

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The Gun Lover’s Daughter

Born in Manila, the second of two children, Apostol was raised in the city of Tacloban by her mother Virginia, who was an artist. She studied at the University of Philippines where she received her bachelor’s degree, and at John Hopkins University in Maryland, where she obtained her Master’s degree in creative writing.

Apostol’s journey as a writer was not an easy one. In 1998, Apostol’s husband, Arne Tangherlini, passed away after the publication of her first novel, Bibliolepsy. The novel won the Philippines’ National Award for Fiction and the National Book Awards from the Manila Critics Circle. The year she won the PEN award, she was diagnosed with stage 1 breast cancer and underwent surgery and chemotherapy.

The now-New Yorker spends her time writing and teaching literature at Fieldston School, a New York prep school. She is a featured author at the upcoming 2nd Singapore Literature Festival (September 28 – 30, 2016), which brings together Singaporean and American authors to discuss literature and social issues.

On June 16th at 7:30 pm at the National Opera Centre, Gina Apostol will read at the Benefit for the Singapore Literature Festival.