When the novel Dogeaters was first published in 1990, The New York Times said that it was written with "wit and originality"[11] Another critic argued that the novel is based on Filipino nationalism. In an interview with Ameena Meer, Hagedorn explains: “a lot of Filipinos were upset about that title. This sense of cultural shame came in. I had intended it as a metaphor. I should have fought the whole idea of trying to explain it, which they did on the book jacket. I didn’t want them to define it and I should have stood by my guns, because it’s been creating more trouble than necessary.” [12] Rachel Lee states that Dogeaters "illustrate[s] the transnational legacy of the United States imperialist practices."[13] The San Diego Union stated, "Hagedorn transcends social strata, gender, culture, and politics in this exuberant, witty, and telling portrait of Philippine society."[14]

Dogeaters won an American Book Award in 1990 and was nominated for the National Book Award in 1991.[15]

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