With these two passionate, vividly realistic novels, The Pretenders and Mass,
F. Sionil José concludes his epochal Rosales Saga. The five volumes span much of the turbulent modern history of the Philippines, a beautiful and embattled nation once occupied by the Spanish, overrun by the Japanese, and dominated by the United States. The portraits painted in The Samsons, and in the previously published Modern Library paperback editions of Dusk and Don Vicente (containing Tree and My Brother, My Executioner), are vivid renderings of one family from the village of Rosales who contend with the forces of oppression and human nature.
Antonio Samson of The Pretenders is ambitious, educated, and torn by conflicting ideas of revolution. He marries well, which leads to his eventual downfall. In Mass, Pepe Samson, the bastard son of Antonio, is also ambitious, but in different ways. He comes to Manila mainly to satisfy his appetites, and after adventures erotic and economic, finds his life taking a surprising turn. Together, these novels form a portrait of a village and a nation, and conclude one of the masterpieces of Southeast Asian literature.