Color photograph of the head and torso of a light skinned Filipino woman with dark hair, wearing a wrinkled red dress and looking at the camera; she stands in front of what looks like a very large but blurred foliage

Gina Apostol

John Guare Writers Fund Rome Prize, a gift of Dorothy and Lewis B. Cullman
February 13–July 14, 2023
Teacher, Department of English, Ethical Culture Fieldston School
Project title
The Treatment of Paz
Project description

My novel’s frames are radicalism in fin de siècle Europe linked to Filipino nationalism, Freud’s early research on hysteria, and the modern history of Filipino global labor, filtered through women’s lives. Educated in Rome, a key locus of the novel, the great Filipino painter Juan Luna, honeymoons in Italy with his wife Paz in 1886. He kills her in Paris in 1892. Their marriage cracks when their baby daughter Bibi dies. Paz becomes ill. In my novel, her treatment involves visits to Dr. Charcot, with whom Freud is also studying. Paz’s servant observes women publicly hypnotized under Charcot’s care and witnesses Paz’s treatment as a nascent Freudian subject. Through the feminist, Marxist lens of Paz’s servant, this novel examines radicalism, the origins of psychoanalysis, and womanhood in the 1880s. The servant’s eye brings in the voice of modern Filipino labor that now spans the globe—our world’s creators—Filipino workers in Rome, Paris, everywhere—who see the world clearly though we are blind to their lives.