Ghosts of Manila (first published in 1994) begins in a wasteland near Manila Airport where a small family business works at boiling down the cadavers of police death squad victims and re-assembling them as skeletons for sale to medical students. The novel's urban drama then opens out to bring in burned-out British journalist John Prideaux, archaeologist and diplomat's daughter Ysabella Bastiaan, streetwise but rueful policeman Rio Dingca, and Epifania Tigos, who struggles to run a sewing co-operative from within a shantytown.
'James Hamilton-Paterson's excoriating book would be unbearably painful were it not so beautifully written. The clarity of his vision and the lucid elegance of his prose - lightened by flashes of gallows humour - make this one of the most extraordinary and powerful novels I have read for years.' Literary Review
'It is the author's remarkable achievement that the city, in all its ragged splendour, continues to haunt the mind even after the last page of the book is finished.' Sunday Telegraph