American Son

A Novel

Brian Ascalon Roley (Author)


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

Book Details

  • Paperback
  • May 2001
  • ISBN 978-0-393-32154-8
  • 5.5 × 8.3 in / 256 pages
  • Sales Territory: Worldwide including Canada, but excluding the British Commonwealth.


Endorsements & Reviews

“Roley is one young writer with something important to say: he has fused a coming-of-age story with a variant on the American immigrant saga, and the result is both explosive and illuminating.” — Jonathan Kirsch, Los Angeles Times Book Review

“Heartbreaking…American Son is a gripping book.” — Aleksandar Hemon, New York Times

“Hard-hitting and brash, this debut novel takes a cold, clear-eyed look at the American immigrant experience…This is a powerhouse story of vulnerable strangers living in a brutal, alien land told with stylish restraint, bare-knuckled realism and tender yet tough clarity.” — Publishers Weekly

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