Patron Saints of Nothing

Patron Saints of Nothing


Randy Ribay

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Patron Saints of Nothing Study Guide

Welcome to the LitCharts study guide on Randy Ribay's Patron Saints of Nothing. Created by the original team behind SparkNotes, LitCharts are the world's best literature guides.

Brief Biography of Randy Ribay

Randy Ribay was born in Manila and grew up in the Midwestern United States, visiting the Philippines periodically. He received his Bachelor’s in English Literature from the University of Colorado at Boulder and a Master’s in Language and Literacy from the Harvard Graduate School of Education. His novels include An Infinite Number of Parallel Universes (2015), After the Shot Drops (2018), and Patron Saints of Nothing (2019), which was a finalist for the National Book Award for Young People’s Literature. His interest in writing the novel stemmed from his experience growing up Filipino American; he hadn’t read many books that explored that experience. He currently lives in Stanford, California with his wife and teaches high school English.
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Historical Context of Patron Saints of Nothing

The events in Patron Saints of Nothing follow the murder of a Filipino teenager named Jun. Jun’s death was tied to Filipino president Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs, as Jun was believed to be either doing or selling drugs and was killed by a vigilante. These events in the novel refer to the very real anti-drug policy of Duterte’s government, which seeks to eliminate illegal drugs in order to make the country safer, but enacts extreme and often unjustified violence in service of doing so. Duterte has sanctioned government murders of individuals suspected to be using or dealing drugs and has also encouraged the public to kill these individuals themselves, offering a bounty for dead suspects. It remains unclear exactly how many people have died because of Duterte’s war on drugs, and Duterte’s policies have been widely condemned by international organizations such as the United Nations and Human Rights Watch. Duterte’s policies, however, seen to be largely popular within the Philippines

Other Books Related to Patron Saints of Nothing

Patron Saints of Nothing is a young adult novel about a Filipino American teenager. Ribay was interested in focusing on this specific experience, which he felt was missing from other young adult novels. In interviews, he’s cited Sandra Cisnero’s The House on Mango Street as one of his primary influences. Cisnero’s novel follows a young Mexican American girl as she enters adolescence and learns more about her community and the world around her. Ribay’s protagonist, Jay, is in a similar position at the start of Patron Saints of Nothing, as he must learn about who he is and where he belongs. While there are few novels about Filipino American teenagers, Ribay is one of many Filipino American authors writing today; others include Erin Entrada Kelly and Elaine Castillo.
Key Facts about Patron Saints of Nothing
  • Full Title: Patron Saints of Nothing
  • When Published: June 2019
  • Literary Period: Contemporary
  • Genre: Young Adult
  • Setting: Michigan, The Philippines (specifically Manila)
  • Climax: Jay and Grace learn that Jun was selling drugs
  • Antagonist: Tito Maning
  • Point of View: First person

Extra Credit for Patron Saints of Nothing

Try Again. It took Ribay five years before he secured an agent to represent his work, and during that period, he wrote four drafts of his first manuscript. Even Patron Saints of Nothing was rejected by many editors before finding a home at Penguin Random House.

Audience Participation. Ribay has stated in interviews that the intended audience for his work is Filipino Americans and Filipinos. Because of this, he had several Filipinos read the manuscript of Patron Saints of Nothing to ensure that he was depicting the novel’s events accurately.