Brian Ascalon Roley's Novel "American Son"
“American Son” is a popular, critically acclaimed and an award-winning American fictional novel. The novel has been penned by acclaimed writer Brian Ascalon Roley, who is popularly known for his fictional writings based on various sensitive socio-economic issues prevalent in the American society. American Son –the novel deals with the sensitive issue of racism, of which the author has himself been a victim of in his early teen years due to his multiracial Pilipino origin. The novel is a deep and penetrating dig at the contemporary crisis of a typical life of American immigrants. The story is based on the lives of American multiracial immigrants who face the hard reality in terms of racism and a cold shoulder from their neighbors and fellow Americans. The plot of the Novel unfolds in the year 1993, a year after the infamous Rodney King Riots which broke out in Los Angeles, California in the year 1992. The plot of the American Son has a powerful and hard-hitting storyline backed with few strong yet vulnerable American immigrants’ characters.
The novel is based in Los Angeles, California, USA, where the population is of large floating ethnicity in nature and portrays the turmoil’s in the lives and relationships of two brothers of half-Pilipino decent. The main protagonists of this novel are Tomas-the elder brother and Gabriel- the younger brother. Tomas and Gabriel are the offsprings of a Pilipino Catholic mother, who is a first-generation American immigrant and an American white father. Genetically blessed, Gabriel has inherited the white American look and often passes as white in the so-called racist society whereas, Tomas faces tremendous racial abuse due to his Pilipino looks and as a result he underwent a makeover and skin tan and started projecting himself with the looks of a Mexican –American gangster. Though the two brothers live in the inner part of the downtown of L.A in an area infamous for its unrest, along with their mother, Gabriel-the younger brother is very much obedient, studious and attentive towards his academics and dreams to make a living through a decent job rather than becoming L.A. thugs like most of his contemporaries. On the other hand, Tomas- the elder brother and the male guardian of their family, though leads a rustic life and has no such dreams and ambitions of his own, but is supportive, caring and protective towards his younger brother and shares a bittersweet and strong bond with his brother Gabriel. The novel deals with the layered complexities of their lives in a racist American environment and their mother’s dream, to return to Philippines- their original homeland someday.
American Son was published in the year 2001 by the publishing house W.W.Norton & Company and was critically acclaimed and won many awards and accolades.