American Son: A Novel

Front Cover
W. W. Norton & Company, Nov 22, 2010 - Fiction - 256 pages

A powerful novel about ethnically fluid California, and the corrosive relationship between two Filipino brothers.

Told with a hard-edged purity that brings to mind Cormac McCarthy and Denis Johnson, American Son is the story of two Filipino brothers adrift in contemporary California. The older brother, Tomas, fashions himself into a Mexican gangster and breeds pricey attack dogs, which he trains in German and sells to Hollywood celebrities. The narrator is younger brother Gabe, who tries to avoid the tar pit of Tomas's waywardness, yet moves ever closer to embracing it. Their mother, who moved to America to escape the caste system of Manila and is now divorced from their American father, struggles to keep her sons in line while working two dead-end jobs. When Gabe runs away, he brings shame and unforeseen consequences to the family. Full of the ache of being caught in a violent and alienating world, American Son is a debut novel that captures the underbelly of the modern immigrant experience.

A Los Angeles Times Best Book, New York Times Notable Book, and a Kiriyama Pacific Rim Prize Finalist


What people are saying - Write a review


User Review  - Kirkus

An uneven debut traces the fall of two brothers growing up in Los Angeles.Gabe and Tomas are teenagers being raised by their Filipino mother. Their Anglo-American father, long-gone, has left them with ... Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - PinkPandaParade - LibraryThing

Brian Ascalon Roley’s novel, American Son, is a gritty and disturbing picture of what amounts to failed assimilations of different extremes, with sons Gabe and Tomas struggling with their identities ... Read full review

Other editions - View all

Common terms and phrases

About the author (2010)

Brian Ascalon Roley grew up in Los Angeles and now lives in San Francisco.

Bibliographic information