Arts & Culture


Writer, columnist, editor, and publisher Jessica Zafra pens her first novel ‘The Age of Umbrage’ and this is what we know about the book so far. NO SPOILERS!

/ 16 November 2020

October was a wonderful month for the avid readers of Jessica Zafra who is known for her Twisted book series, her acerbic tone, and her love for cats. 

Zafra’s first novel, The Age of Umbrage, which follows the 15-year-old Guadalupe, has been launched during the early weeks of October.

The short novel was written back in 2016 when Zafra stopped writing for newspaper columns in 2016. “My first novel, The Age of Umbrage, was written in 2016 after I quit writing columns altogether,” Zafra says in an Instagram post. 

Guadalupe, 15, is confused. She grew up in the house of one of the richest families in the world… in the servants’ quarters with her mother, the family cook. The life of luxury is all she knows, but it isn’t really her life. Unhappy in school, invisible at home, she lives inside her head, in a world made of books and movies.

The Age of Umbrage is a slim book that can easily be identified through its easy-on-the-eye purple cover crafted by artist Bianca Alexandra Ortigas. 

A cat colored in yellow can also be seen on the front cover.  “It’s her [Bianca Ortigas] first book cover! Note the cat—since Collected Stories, all my book covers will have cats,” Zafra shares. 

According to Zafra, some of the book’s characters were inspired by the people she knows in real life. For instance, Guillermo, the protagonist’s first friend, was based on her sister. 

“Many of my characters are exaggerated composites of people I know. Guada’s first friend, the rich brat Guillermo, is named after and based on my first gay sister, Guillermo Ramos,” Zafra writes. “During the lean years in the ‘00s, we used to commiserate about our financial worries. So in my novel, I made Ige filthy rich from birth. I enjoy remaking reality.”

The Age of Umbrage was recently published by Ateneo de Manila University Press, under its Bughaw imprint. The book is also available on Shopee and Lazada for P295.00.

Funny, caustic, and moving, The Age of Umbrage marks as the first jab at novel-writing from one of the most distinctive voices in contemporary Filipino writing.