Winner of The Restless Books Prize for New Immigrant Writing, Grace Talusan’s memoir The Body Papers bravely explores her experiences with sexual abuse, depression, cancer, and life as a Filipino immigrant, supplemented with government documents, medical records, and family photos.

Grace Talusan was born in the Philippines and raised in New England. She graduated from Tufts University and the MFA Program in Writing at UC Irvine. She is the recipient of a U.S. Fulbright Fellowship to the Philippines and an Artist Fellowship Award from the Massachusetts Cultural Council. Talusan teaches at Grub Street and Tufts. The Body Papers, winner of the Restless Books Prize for New Immigrant Writing, is her first book.

 



Elaine Castillo was born in the San Francisco Bay Area. She is a graduate of the University of California, Berkeley. America Is Not the Heart is her first novel.

Illuminating the violent political history of the Philippines in the 1980s and 1990s and the insular immigrant communities that spring up in the suburban United States with an uncanny ear for the unspoken intimacies and pain that get buried by the duties of everyday life and family ritual, Castillo delivers a powerful, increasingly relevant novel about the promise of the American dream and the unshakable power of the past. In a voice as immediate and startling as those of Junot Diaz and NoViolet Bulawayo, America Is Not the Heart is a sprawling, soulful telenovela of a debut novel. With exuberance, muscularity, and tenderness, here is a family saga; an origin story; a romance; a narrative of two nations and the people who leave home to grasp at another, sometimes turning back.

 



Set in New York and China, THE LEAVERS follows one young man's search for his mother, an undocumented Chinese immigrant who disappears when he's 11 years old, after which he is adopted by a white family. It's the story of one mother and her son: what brings them together and takes them apart.

About the author, Lisa Ko: The only child of Chinese immigrants from the Philippines, she was the first in her extended family to be born in the United States.

 




Maria Regina Tolentino Newport, founder and first president of the Culinary Historians of the Philippines (CHOP), launches her first book, the Gourmand World Cookbook Award-winning "Coconut Kitchen: Appetizers and Main Dishes."

Coconut Kitchen, a cookbook made for the home cook, contains basic information on the coconut – highlighting its health benefits, the many products made from it, and how they can be used in cooking. It also provides more than 60 recipes of appetizers and main dishes from a wide variety of ingredients such as vegetables, seafood, meat, poultry, sauces and salad dressings, each using one or more coconut products.

 

 




"A Village in the Fields" by Patty Enrado In her debut novel, Patty Enrado highlights a compelling but buried piece of American history: the Filipino- American contribution to the farm labor movement. This intricately detailed story of love, loss, and human dignity spans more than eight decades and sweeps from the Philippines to the United States. In the vein of The Grapes of Wrath, A VILLAGE IN THE FIELDS pays tribute to the sacrifices that Filipino immigrant farm workers made to bring justice to the fields.




"The Latinos of Asia: How Filipino Americans Break the Rules of Race" by Anthony Christian Ocampo. Is race only about the color of your skin? In The Latinos of Asia, Anthony Christian Ocampo shows that what "color" you are depends largely on your social context. Filipino Americans, for example, helped establish the Asian American movement and are classified by the U.S. Census as Asian. But the legacy of Spanish colonialism in the Philippines means that they share many cultural characteristics with Latinos, such as last names, religion, and language. Thus, Filipinos' "color"—their sense of connection with other racial groups—changes depending on their social context.




Filipino Ghost Stories: Spine-Tingling Tales of Supernatural Encounters and Hauntings by Alex G. Paman. Ghost stories are commonplace in traditional Filipino culture. Whether they take place at a relative's funeral or a hacienda located deep in a remote province, virtually all families have their own personal accounts of their encounters with the supernatural. Passed on from generation to generation, these tales act as a bridge to the past, to a time lost or nearly forgotten.



 

Short Story: "Playing with Dolls" by Monica Macansantos

The Last Mistress of Jose Rizal by Brian Ascalon Roley is a collection of stories that focuses on multigenerational tales of intertwined Filipino families. Set in the huge yet relatively overlooked and misunderstood Filipino diaspora in the United States, this book follows characters who live in the shadow of the histories of the United States and its former colony in Asia, the Philippines. The impact of immigration and separation filters through the stories as a way of communing with or creating distance between individuals and family, country, or history.
Roley’s work has been praised by everyone from New York Times literary critics to APIA author Helen Zia for his bare, poetic style and raw emotionalism. In the collection’s title story, a woman living with her daughter and her daughter’s American husband fears the loss of Filipino tradition, especially Catholicism, as she tries to secretly permeate her granddaughter’s existence with elements of her ancestry. In "New Relations," an American-born son introduces his mother to his Caucasian bride and her family, only to experience his first marital discord around issues of politesse, the perception of culture, and post-colonial legacies. Roley’s delicately nuanced collection often leaves the audience with the awkwardness that comes from things lost in translation or entangled in generational divides.




Erin Entrada Kelly, the author of the acclaimed Blackbird Fly, writes with grace, imagination, and deepest heart about family, sisters, and friendship, and about finding and holding on to hope in difficult times.

Two sisters from the Philippines, abandoned by their father and living with their stepmother in Louisiana, fight to make their lives better in this remarkable story for readers of Cynthia Kadohata and Rita Williams-Garcia, and for anyone searching for the true meaning of family.



"Asian-American: Proudly Inauthentic Recipes from the Philippines to Brooklyn" By Dale Talde.Born in Chicago to Filipino parents, Dale Talde grew up both steeped in his family's culinary heritage and infatuated with American fast food--burgers, chicken nuggets, and Hot Pockets. Today, his dual identity is etched on the menu at Talde, his always-packed Brooklyn restaurant. There he reimagines iconic Asian dishes, imbuing them with Americana while doubling down on the culinary fireworks that made them so popular in the first place. His riff on pad thai features bacon and oysters. He gives juicy pork dumplings the salty, springy exterior of soft pretzels. His food isn't Asian fusion; it's Asian-American. Now, in his first cookbook, Dale shares the recipes that have made him famous, all told in his inimitable voice. Some chefs cook food meant to transport you to Northern Thailand or Sichuan province, to Vietnam or Tokyo. Dale's food is meant to remind you that you're home.




 

Short Story: "My Father's Noose" By Grace Talusan >>>


 

Short Story: "How to Make Yogurt in Manila" By Grace Talusan >>>


"In The Country" by Mia Alvar.

Mia Alvar’s stories of the Filipino diaspora are stunning – restrained yet comprehensive in their evocation of what it means to live under martial law, in poverty, away from your family. No matter how far her Filipino characters travel – Bahrain, New York, to the prison thirty minutes down the road – and no matter how much their lives change – finer houses, nicer cars, medical degrees – home is ever present, ingrained in every action they take; for, “how ‘distant’ could the blood running through your veins be?” In the opening story, a young pharmacist returns home to care for his ailing father, smuggling drugs to help ease the pain and discovers an alarming secret about his mother. In ‘Shadow Families’ wealthy Filipina housewives in Bahrain throw parties for the working-class Filipinos because “helping these helpers, who’d traveled even farther, felt like home.” Alvar’s ‘Esmeralda’ explores the immigrant experience during 9/11 and it is exquisite, a story so real and pure that it could break your heart. In the Country is a joy to read. Mia Alvar’s writing is attentive, compassionate and filled with powerful sense of belonging – a splendid debut.


"Barkada ng Lima: Gang of Five" by Ninotchka Rosca

Five short stories originally written in English by American Book Awarded Ninotchka Rosca, translated into Tagalog by Pia Arboleda, head of the Filipino and Philippine Literature Program of the University of Hawaii. The book is in both English and Tagalog.

"Gun Dealers' Daughter " by Gina Apostol.

At university in Manila, young, bookish Soledad Soliman falls in with radical friends, defying her wealthy parents and their society crowd. Drawn in by two romantic young rebels, Sol initiates a conspiracy that quickly spirals out of control. Years later, far from her homeland, Sol reconstructs her fractured memories, writing a confession she hopes will be her salvation. Illuminating the dramatic history of the Marcos-era Philippines, this story of youthful passion is a tour de force.


"The Caprices" by Sabina Murray

A caprice in wartime may be a sinister thing or a necessary distraction, and in this shrewd, striking debut collection of nine short stories by novelist (Slow Burn) and screenwriter Murray it is frequently both. The characters of these cleverly crafted tales are bound by the atrocities of WWII in the Pacific and forced to make decisions in situations where hope is in short supply. The survivors are supposedly the lucky ones, though veterans like Australian Bob Cairns in "Walkabout" is horrified to learn he "would only bring the war back to a place that he had hoped to protect from it. He would no longer be a person but a reminder of absences.... He was now an ugly thing, a sore upon the landscape, a battered body which told a story that no one wished to hear." Like Cairns, Murray displays the ravages of war, but she has full confidence in the power of her storytelling ability. Attempting to tell the truth, no matter how gut-wrenching, she also handles humor with laudable finesse, using it to separate those characters who can still appreciate it from those who now find laughter unfamiliar and awkward. In "Guinea," American soldiers Francino and Burns are lost in the jungles of New Guinea with an emaciated Japanese POW who offers them some unexpected comic relief. The narrator of "Intramuros" entertains the reader with mini-tales of her mixed-heritage family; a distant cousin, Benito, is legendary for looting a store "liberated" by the Japanese and trusting a stranger with his prize, a bicycle, while he returns for more. War is an unusual subject for a young female writer; with each piece, Murray proves to be increasingly exceptional.

Ode to the Heart Smaller Than a Pencil Eraser by Luisa Igloria

 

Blood Orange by Angela Narciso Torres

Poetry collection by Angela Narciso Torres, Willow Books Literature Awards Grand Prize Winner in Poetry. Part memoir, part love letter to the Philippines of her youth, Blood Orange has received critical acclaim for its ability to be at once vividly present in the moment and fully attuned to the under-dwelling currents of history.

The Mango Bride Paperback by Marivi Soliven

Banished by her wealthy Filipino family in Manila, Amparo Guerrero travels to Oakland, California, to forge a new life. Although her mother labels her life in exile a diminished one, Amparo believes her struggles are a small price to pay for freedom.

Like Amparo, Beverly Obejas—an impoverished Filipina waitress—forsakes Manila and comes to Oakland as a mail-order bride in search of a better life. Yet even in the land of plenty, Beverly fails to find the happiness and prosperity she envisioned.

As Amparo works to build the immigrant’s dream, she becomes entangled in the chaos of Beverly’s immigrant nightmare. Their unexpected collision forces them both to make terrible choices and confront a life-changing secret, but through it all they hold fast to family, in all its enduring and surprising transformations.

"Memories of Philippine Kitchens" by Amy Besa & Romy Dorotan In the newly revised and updated Memories of Philippine Kitchens, Amy Besa and Romy Dorotan, owners and chef at the Purple Yam and formerly of Cendrillon in Manhattan, present a fascinating—and very personal—look at Filipino cuisine and culture. From adobo to pancit, lumpia to kinilaw, the authors trace the origins of native Filipino foods and the impact of foreign cultures on the cuisine. More than 100 unique recipes, culled from private kitchens and the acclaimed Purple Yam menu, reflect classic dishes as well as contemporary Filipino food. Filled with hundreds of sumptuous photographs and stories from the authors and other notable cooks, this book is a joy to peruse in and out of the kitchen.
"Angel de la Luna and the 5th Glorious Mystery" by M. Evelina Galang. Angel has just lost her father, and her mother's grief means she might as well be gone too. She's got a sister and a grandmother to look out for, and a burgeoning consciousness of the unfairness in the world—in her family, her community, and her country.Set against the backdrop of the second Philippine People Power Revolution in 2001, the contemporary struggles of surviving Filipina “Comfort Women” of WWII, and a cold winter’s season in the city of Chicago is the story of a daughter coming of age, coming to forgiveness, and learning to move past the chaos of grief to survive.
"Smaller and Smaller Circles" by F.H. Batacan. Smaller and Smaller Circles is unique in the Philippine literary scene - a Pinoy detective novel, both fast-paced and intelligent, with a Jesuit priest who also happens to be a forensic anthropologist as the sleuth. When it won the Carlos Palanca Grand Prize for the English Novel in 1999, it proved that fiction can be both popular and literary.
"My Favorite Warlord " by Eugene Gloria. The themes of identity, relationships, and the poet's sense of origin are at the heart of Eugene Gloria's rich and captivating new collection. The title poem weaves together Japan's sixteenth-century warlord Hideyoshi with a meditation about the poet's father's dementia; "Here on Earth" embraces post-racial America and the speaker's own sense of displacement in the Midwest. In elegy and psalm, as well as ancient forms from Asia such as the haibun and pantoum, these elegant and passionate poems enact rage, civility, love, travel, and art as well as explore Gloria's own fears of frailty and erasure.
"Pacquiao: Winning In & Out of the Ring" by Jose Gamboa. How did Manny ‘Pacman’ Pacquiao, a man with little education and no money or connections, become the record holder for the most championship titles in boxing, the 6th highest paid athlete in the world, a Philippine Congressman, one of the 40 richest Filipinos, and one of TIME's 100 most influential people of 2009? Find out from this exhaustively researched, written, and drawn comic bio of The Pacman. Learn about Pacquiao’s humble beginnings and gain insight into how his core principles and values have led him to become the world’s greatest boxer and an inspiration for millions.
Monstress by Lysley Tenorio. Monstress introduces a bold new writer who explores the clash and meld of disparate cultures. In the National Magazine Award-nominated title story, a has-been movie director and his reluctant leading lady travel from Manila to Hollywood for one last chance at stardom, unaware of what they truly stand to lose. In "Felix Starro," a famous Filipino faith healer and his grandson conduct an illicit business in San Francisco, though each has his own plans for their earnings. And after the Beatles reject an invitation from Imelda Marcos for a Royal Command Performance, an aging bachelor attempts to defend her honor by recruiting his three nephews to attack the group at the Manila International Airport in "Help."
Chinese and Chinese Mestizos of Manila: Family, Identity, and Culture, 1860s-1930s
by Richard T.
Chu For centuries, the Chinese have been intermarrying with inhabitants of the Philippines, resulting in a creolized community of Chinese mestizos under the Spanish colonial regime. In contemporary Philippine society, the "Chinese" are seen as a racialized "Other" while descendants from early Chinese-Filipino intermarriages as "Filipino." Previous scholarship attributes this development to the identification of Chinese mestizos with the equally "Hispanicized" and "Catholic" indios. Building on works in Chinese transnationalism and cultural anthropology, this book examines the everyday practices of Chinese merchant families in Manila from the 1860's to the 1930's. The result is a fascinating study of how families and individuals creatively negotiated thier identities in ways that challenge our understanding of the genesis of the ethnic identities in the Philippines.
Before Ever After: A Novel by Samantha Sotto Three years after her husband Max's death, Shelley feels no more adjusted to being a widow than she did that first terrible day. That is, until the doorbell rings. Standing on her front step is a young man who looks so much like Max–same smile, same eyes, same age, same adorable bump in his nose–he could be Max's long-lost relation. He introduces himself as Paolo, an Italian editor of American coffee table books, and shows Shelley some childhood photos. Paolo tells her that the man in the photos, the bearded man who Paolo says is his grandfather though he never seems to age, is Max. Her Max. And he is alive and well.

As outrageous as Paolo's claims seem–how could her husband be alive? And if he is, why hasn't he looked her up? – Shelley desperately wants to know the truth. She and Paolo jet across the globe to track Max down–if it is really Max– and along the way, Shelley recounts the European package tour where they had met. As she relives Max's stories of bloody Parisian barricades, medieval Austrian kitchens, and buried Roman boathouses, Shelley begins to piece together the story of who her husband was and what these new revelations mean for her "happily ever after." And as she and Paolo get closer to the truth, Shelley discovers that not all stories end where they are supposed to.

From the Memoirs of a Non-Enemy Combatant: A Novel by Alex Gilvarry Boyet Hernandez is a small man with a big American dream when he arrives in New York in 2002, fresh out of design school in Manila. With dubious financing and visions of Fashion Week runways, he sets up shop in a Brooklyn toothpick factory, pursuing his goals with monkish devotion (distractions of a voluptuous undergrad not withstanding). But mere weeks after a high-end retail order promises to catapult his (B)oy label to the big time, there's a knock on the door in the middle of the night: the flamboyant ex-Catholic Boyet is brought to Gitmo, handed a Koran, and locked away indefinitely on suspicion of being linked to a terrorist plot. Now, from his 6' x 8' cell, Boy prepares for the trial of his life with this intimate confession, even as his belief in American justice begins to erode.

With a nod to Junot Diaz and a wink to Gary Shteyngart, Alex Gilvarry's first novel explores some of the most serious issues of our time with dark eviscerating wit.

Leche by R. Zamora Linmark After thirteen years of living in the U.S., Vince returns to his birthplace, the Philippines. As he ventures into the heat and chaos of the city, he encounters a motley cast of characters, including a renegade nun, a political film director, arrogant hustlers, and the country’s spotlight-driven First Daughter. Haunted by his childhood memories and a troubled family history, Vince unravels the turmoil, beauty, and despair of a life caught between a fractured past and a precarious future.

Witty and mesmerizing, this novel explores the complex colonial and cultural history of the Philippines and the paradoxes inherent in the search for both personal and national identities.

 

Walang Hiya ... Literature Taking Risks Toward Liberatory Practice Presented by Editors Lolan Buhain Sevilla and Roseli Ilano, this anthology is committed to using the narrative as a departure point for personal and political transformation. Featuring short fiction and poetry from emerging Pilipino and Pilipino-American writers:

Adrien Salazar, Aimee Suzara, Aldrich Sabac, Amalia Bueno, David Maduli, Dionisio Velasco, Edene Matutina, Eileen Tabios, Ellen-Rae Cachola, Elsa Valmidiano, Emily Lawsin, Grace Talusan, Jen Palmares Meadows, Jenny C. Lares, Joan Iva Cube, Kristen Sajonas, Laurel Fantauzzo, Lolan Buhain Sevilla, Melanie Dulfo, Melissa Reyes, Michael Janairo, Michelle Ferrer, Niki Escobar, Paul Ocampo, Pippi Prado, Rachel Gray, Regie Cabico, Ricco Villanueva Siasoco, Roseli Ilano, Thomas Paras, Tina Bartolome. Artwork by Arlene Rodrigo and Aimee Espiritu.

Ilustrado by Miguel Syjuco Garnering international prizes and acclaim before its publication, Ilustrado has been called “brilliantly conceived and stylishly executed . . .It is also ceaselessly entertaining, frequently raunchy, and effervescent with humor” (2008 Man Asian Literary Prize panel of judges).

It begins with a body. On a clear day in winter, the battered corpse of Crispin Salvador is pulled from the Hudson River—taken from the world is the controversial lion of Philippine literature. Gone, too, is the only manuscript of his final book, a work meant to rescue him from obscurity by exposing the crimes of the Filipino ruling families. Miguel, his student and only remaining friend, sets out for Manila to investigate.

To understand the death, Miguel scours the life, piecing together Salvador’s story through his poetry, interviews, novels, polemics, and memoirs. The result is a rich and dramatic family saga of four generations, tracing 150 years of Philippine history forged under the Spanish, the Americans, and the Filipinos themselves. Finally, we are surprised to learn that this story belongs to young Miguel as much as to his lost mentor, and we are treated to an unhindered view of a society caught between reckless decay and hopeful progress.

Exuberant and wise, wildly funny and deeply moving, Ilustrado explores the hidden truths that haunt every family. It is a daring and inventive debut by a new writer of astonishing talent.

 

Short Story: "Alien Hand" by Grace Talusan >>>

Short Story: "A Doctor of None" by Zaldy Tan

  Short Story: "The Hand," by Marianne Villanueva

The Solmen Lantern Maker by Merlinda Bobis It’s six days until Christmas, and on the bustling streets of Manila a mute ten-year-old boy sells his version of the stars: exquisite lanterns handmade with colorful paper. But everything changes for young Noland when he witnesses an American tourist injured in a drive-by shooting of a journalist and imagines he’s seen an angel falling from the sky. When Noland whisks her to the safety of the hut he shares with his mother, the magical and the real collide: shimmering lanterns and poverty, Christmas carols and loss, dreams of friendship and the global war on terror. While the story of the missing tourist grips the media, Noland and his mother care for their wounded guest, and a dark memory returns. But light sneaks in—and their lives are transformed by the power of love.

Filipino American Psychology by Dr. Kevin Nadal Filipino Americans are the second largest Asian American/ Pacific Islander population in the United States and they are projected to become the largest Asian American population by 2010. With 1.37 million Filipino-born immigrants living in the US, Filipino Americans are the second largest immigrant population in the country. As descendants of the Philippines, a country that was colonized by Spain for over three centuries and by the US for nearly 50 years, Filipino Americans are an ethnic group with a sociocultural and historical experience that is unlike any other. First, they are the only ethnic group that has been categorized as Asian American, Pacific Islander, and Hispanic. However, California state laws require that all personnel surveys or statistical tabulations classify persons of Filipino ancestry as "Filipino" rather than part of any other racial or ethnic group. Additionally, Filipino Americans have often been referred to as the "Forgotten Asian Americans," because their presence has been invisible in psychology, education, humanities, and other social sciences. Filipino American Psychology: A Handbook of Theory, Research, and Clinical Practice offers a comprehensive look at the psyche of Filipino Americans. By examining history, cultural values, influences of colonialism, community dynamics, and intersections with other identities, the reader will have an opportunity to understand essential information about this population. Students will gain knowledge and awareness about Filipino American identity and personality development, while practitioners will learn culturally-competent techniques to become better counselors, clinicians, and educators. This book is the first of its kind and aims to promote visibility of this invisible group, so that 2.4 million Filipino Americans will have their voices heard.

Juan Luna's Revolver by Luisa A. Igloria The poems in Juan Luna's Revolver both address history and attempt to transcend it through their exploration of the complexity of diaspora. Attending to the legacy of colonial and postcolonial encounters, Luisa A. Igloria has crafted poems that create links of sympathetic human understanding, even as they revisit difficult histories and pose necessary questions about place, power, displacement, nostalgia, beauty, and human resilience in conditions of alienation and duress.
Igloria traces journeys made by Filipinos in the global diaspora that began since the encounter with European and American colonial power. Her poems allude to historical figures such as the Filipino painter Juan Luna and the novelist and national hero José Rizal, as well as the eleven hundred indigenous Filipinos brought to serve as live exhibits in the 1904 Missouri World's Fair. The image of the revolver fired by Juan Luna reverberates throughout the collection, raising to high relief how separation and exile have shaped concepts of identity, nationality, and possibility.
Suffused with gorgeous imagery and nuanced emotion, Igloria's poetry achieves an intimacy fostered by gem-like phrases set within a politically-charged context speaking both to the personal and the collective.

The Gods We Worship Live Next Door Bino A. Realuyo has that rare gift of transforming modern horror into art. In The Gods We Worship Live Next Door he writes of his beleaguered country, the Philippines, in ways that reveal universal truths. The land is vibrant and alive, real with mythical shadows--rituals, dances, work--and, at the same time, racked by persecution and death. The book is passionate without a trace of sentimentality, a compelling account of destruction under a silent god." Grace Schulman, distinguished professor of English, Baruch College, CUNY

Love Walks IN (WINTER 2009) Cornelia is a single thirtysomething who lives her life like a series of movie moments. She's a manager of a cafe because she hasn't figured out anything better to do. Her ideal man is Cary Grant. And just when she thinks he'll never show up, he does, in the form of Martin Grace. What she doesn't know is that Martin, with his cool charm and debonair demeanor, has a daughter, Clare. And she never would have known that except that Martin, in a state of panic, shows up with the girl at the cafe after her mother had a breakdown and left Clare to fend for herself. Estranged from his daughter for years, Martin doesn't know what to do with her. Both women's stories are told in alternating chapters, Cornelia's in first person, Clare's in third. This is a first novel with some wonderful and heartbreaking moments scattered throughout, along with some moments that are purely contrived for the forward movement of the plot. Overall, it is a sweet story about knowing what you love and why. Carolyn Kubisz
Is Lighter Better (FALL 2008) Colorism is defined as discriminatory treatment of individuals falling within the same 'racial' group on the basis of skin color. That is, some people, particularly women, are treated better or worse on account of the color of their skin relative to other people who share their same racial category. Colorism affects Asian Americans from many different backgrounds and who live in all different parts of the United States. Is Lighter Better? discusses this often-overlooked topic. Rondilla and Spickard ask important questions like: what are the colorism issues that operate in Asian American communities? Are they the same issues for all sorts of Asian Americans for women and for men, for immigrants and the American born, for Chinese, Filipinos, Koreans, Vietnamese, and all the other sorts of Asian Americans? Do they reflect a desire to look like White people, or is some other motive at work? Including numerous stories about and by people who have faced discrimination in their own lives, this book is an invaluable resource for people interested in colorism among Asian Americans.
America is in the Heart (SPRING 2008): First published in 1946, this autobiography of the well-known Filipino poet describes his boyhood in the Philippines, his voyage to America, and his years of hardship and despair as an itinerant laborer following the harvest trail in the rural West. Bulosan does not spare the reader any of the horrors that accompanied the migrant's life; but his quiet, stoic voice is the most convincing witness to those terrible events.

The New York Times Book Review of the Umbrella Country, Laura Morgan Green
...Realuyo's lucid prose, unencumbered by sentimentality or hindsight, lends freshness to the conflicts of his somewhat familiar characters and color to a setting both impoverished and alluring.

From Kirkus Reviews
A lyrical first novel limns a troubled coming-of-age in 1970s Manila, where deviance and difference are punished by silence or brutality. Eleven-year-old Gringo, an observant child who spends long hours watching the neighborhood from an upstairs window, narrates the story of his Manila childhood. He is perhaps too adult and perceptive for his agebut these are common failings of the genre, redeemed here by the eloquence of the writing. The family is poor and unhappy. The father, Daddy Groovie, often unemployed, dreams only of escaping to America, where his sister lives; the mother, Estrella, her feelings tightly suppressed, got married only because she was pregnant; one-year-older brother Pipo, of whom Gringo is extraordinarily protective, likes to dress in women's clothes and has thrice been crowned ``Miss Unibers'' in childhood versions of the beauty pageant; and when hes drunk, Daddy Groovie beats Pipo and Estrella while Gringo looks on helplessly. The neighbors don't intervene either, Manila being a place where umbrellas are carried both in rain and sun as a means of protection from what is best neither seen nor known. Gringo has had to grow up fast: After Pipo is brutally raped by Boy Manicure, the owner of the street's Beauty Parlor, Gringo helps him clean up; an older acquaintance shows Gringo the hideout where Pipo is coupling with other young gays; and when Boy is murdered by an unknown adult, Gringo confesses that it was his shorts, not Pipo's, that police found on the premises. Daddy Groovie gets his visa and, once settled in the US, sends for his family, but only the boys will go: Estrella belongs in Manila. Gringo's responsibilities for his brother must continue. Sometimes overwrought, but even so an evocative and subtly different take on the loss of innocence. A promising debut. -- Copyright ©1999, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

When the Elephants Dance (2007): "Papa explains the war like this," narrates 13-year-old Alejandro as he heads through a series of Japanese barricades and check points. " `When the elephants dance, the chickens must be careful.' The great beasts, as they circle one another, shaking the trees and trumpeting loudly, are the Amerikanos and the Japanese as they fight. And our Philippine Islands? We are the small chickens." Inspired by her father, who grew up in the Philippines under the Japanese occupation during WWII, first-time novelist Holthe writes about the experience from a variety of civilian perspectives. Set in Manila during the final week of the Japanese-American battle for control of the islands, the novel centers on a small, mismatched group of families and neighbors who huddle in a cellar while Japanese occupiers terrorize and pillage above. Because food and water are scarce, some of the refugees must leave the shelter to forage for sustenance. In simple, strong language, Holthe conveys the terrifying experience of darting bullets and machetes above ground and the equally horrendous experience of waiting for loved ones to return. Grounded in Philippine myth and culture, the novel is filled with beautiful, allegorical stories told by the story's elders, who try to share wisdom and inspire their captive audience in the midst of gruesome violence. Primarily narrated by Alejandro; his older, headstrong sister, Isabelle; and Domingo, a guerrilla commander living a double life one with his family in the cellar, the other with his true love and adopted son in his rebel army this beautiful, harsh war story is no epic. Rather, Holthe presents personal, pointed fragments that clearly demonstrate history's cultural and personal fallout. (Jan.)Forecast: A promotional blitz an eight-city author tour, targeted marketing to Asian organizations, and radio and print advertising campaigns should alert readers who appreciate simple, moving storytelling to this powerful debut.
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