A singularly effervescent novel pivoting around the disappearance of an American businessman in the Philippines and the long-suffering son, jilted lover, slick police commissioner, misguided villain, and supernatural saviors who all want a piece of him.
Mourning the recent loss of his mother, twentysomething Benicio—aka Benny—travels to Manila to reconnect with his estranged father, Howard. But when he arrives his father is nowhere to be found—leaving an irritated son to conclude that Howard has let him down for the umpteenth time. However, his father has actually been kidnapped by a meth-addled cabdriver, with grand plans to sell him to local terrorists as bait in the country’s never-ending power struggle between insurgents, separatists, and “democratic” muscle.
Benicio’s search for Howard reveals more about his father’s womanizing ways and suspicious business deals, reopening the old hurts that he’d hoped to mend. Interspersed with the son’s inquiry and the father’s calamitous life in captivity are the high-octane interconnecting narratives of Reynato Ocampo, the local celebrity-hero policeman charged with rescuing Howard; Ocampo’s ragtag team of wizardry-infused soldiers; and Monique, a novice officer at the American embassy whose family still feels feverishly unmoored in the Philippines.
With blistering forward momentum, crackling dialogue, wonderfully bizarre turns, and glimpses into both Filipino and expat culture, the novel marches toward a stunning climax, which ultimately challenges our conventional ideas of family and identity and introduces Yates as a powerful new voice in contemporary literature.
ALEXANDER YATES grew up in Haiti, Mexico, Bolivia, and the Philippines. He holds an MFA from Syracuse University, and his short story “Everything, Clearly” will appear in the 2010 American Fiction: Best Short Stories by Emerging Writers.
"Dazzling....engaging....Mr. Yate's most impressive feat is to synchronize a sort of gradual reconciliation between the father and son without the two even meeting. But that is only half of the action....[and] Mr. Yates attacks this twist with shoot-'em-up verve.....readers will be gratified by the ambition and raw energy on the display in this particularly promising debut"--Wall Street Journal
"Weird and weirdly affecting Philippines-set novel. The multiple story lines — involving an American businessman, his bumbling kidnappers, his estranged son, an embassy worker having an affair with a Filipino national hero, and an A-Team of supernaturally enhanced soldiers — languorously intertwine, thankfully without the soulless Swiss-watch efficiency that often governs books with such large casts. Yates, who spent part of his youth on the archipelago, caulks the cracks with local detail, but leaves enough room for Moondogs' narrative to breathe." --Entertainment Weekly
"[G]ritty, ambitious.... entertaining....Yates develops considerable narrative momentum....The vibrant and convincing setting coupled with the well-drawn major characters make for..... much to enjoy here."
"Like one of his own characters, Yates is a bruho, endowed with magical vision that allows him to see the invisible strands of fate and luck that bind people to each other. He is also a sharpshooter, able to survey an entire city of millions, and then, in an instant, train his sights on an individual target, focusing with great precision on delicate movements of the head and the heart."
–Charles Yu, author of How To Live Safely in a Science Fiction Universe
"MOONDOGS is the thrilla’ in Manila, a rollicking mash-up of magic and mayhem that grabs you by the collar and won't let go. Alexander Yates sizzles."
—Keith Donohue, author of The Stolen Child and Angels of Destruction
"An electric and fierce debut novel where strangers share a world with the estranged, and their hidden secrets and open hostilities are equally combustible. Yates writes with a sense of color and heat that crackles in the voices of his star-crossed characters and adds a vivid glow to the streets of Manila and waters of the Philippines. MOONDOGS beckons, drawing readers onward with a vibrant intensity that is both lyrical and thrilling. -Ravi Howard, author of Like Trees, Walking
"Yates is the real thing; a unique literary voice and natural storyteller with indelible characters, thrill-ride geopolitics and narrative mastery"—Arthur Flowers, author of Another Good Loving Blues
"The greatest of Yates' many talents is his ability to make us feel like insiders in so many different worlds and minds. He has Elmore Leonard's logistical chops and Charles Portis' sense of humor but the juggling act of MOONDOGS is entirely his own—and nothing ever touches the ground."—Roy Kesey, author of All Over and the upcoming Pacazo