The Quiet Ones

Ateneo de Manila University Press
386 pages, paperback
Grand Prize, Novel, Carlos Palanca Memorial Awards for Literature (2017)
Winner, Philippine National Book Award for Best Novel in English


During a regular shift at the call center, Alvin Estrada discovers a way to embezzle money from the American telecom giant for which he mans the phones. Soon a couple of friends join in, and the operation proceeds smoothly up until they quit, vowing to take the secret to their graves. A month later, a phone call at 4 in the morning tells Alvin that the police are on their way.

At once a workplace novel and a meditation on history and globalization, The Quiet Ones is a grimly humorous take on a soul-sapping, multi-billion-dollar industry. In interlocking narratives, it explores lives rendered mute by irate callers, scripted apologies, and life’s menial violence, but which manage to talk back every now and then, just as long as the Mute button is firmly pressed.


“The prose seduces, the story devastates: a postcolonial lyric brooding on our world’s capitalist nightmare. Glenn Diaz’s The Quiet Ones gives the Philippines a book it has been waiting for.”

Gina Apostol, author of Gun Dealer’s Daughter

“A witty, barbed account of a call center full of misfits attempting to navigate a world that has increasingly little to offer them … An impressive, sure-footed debut, full of irreverence and vigor.”

Jeremy Tiang, author of State of Emergency

“Glenn Diaz’s The Quiet Ones is not just a story that revolves around the aftermath of an embezzlement committed by a cluster of call center agents. Highly discursive and meandering, it was able to grip the reader’s attention to diverse consciousness that are world-weary yet humorous. It is a timely work that brings to our attention the cost of our keeping afloat in global dreams that are not quite our own, and unquiet still.”

Luna Sicat Cleto (Citation for the National Book Award)

Read an excerpt here


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