Unforgettable reads for all year long
It’s not too late to celebrate Filipino American History Month! If you devoured the 1945 classic America Is in the Heart by Carlos Bulosan—republished by Penguin Classics in 2018—here are some titles by Filipino-American authors to add to your quarantine reading list. And whether you’re Filipino or not, you’ll surely find these titles worth remembering.
The Body Papers by Grace Talusan
Winner of The Restless Books Prize for New Immigrant Writing, Grace Talusan’s critically acclaimed memoir The Body Papers documents her own life as a Filipino immigrant and survivor of cancer. The Body Papers uncovers years of childhood abuse from her grandfather and trauma as an undocumented immigrant.
Fairest by Meredith Talusan
Meredith Talusan, cousin of Grace, released their coming-of-age memoir in 2020 entitled Fairest. As a precocious boy with albinism, a “sun child” from a rural Philippine village, they grow up to become an immigrant to the United States who undergoes transition as a woman. The memoir illuminates the illusions of race, disability and gender.
Patron Saints of Nothing by Randy Ribay
The compelling coming-of-age story reconciles grief, guilt and the immigrant identity. Narrated by Jay, a Filipino-American senior about to enter university, Randy Ribay’s Patron Saints Of Nothing is set in the milieu of Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs. The bestseller was among the finalists in the 2019 National Book Awards.
Read the full review here.
Trick Mirror: Reflections on Self-Delusion by Jia Tolentino
The New Yorker staff writer explores the cultural prisms that have shaped her in this lucid essay collection. In nine unforgettable essays, she covers topics like internet culture and contemporary feminism. Trick Mirror also garnered praise from the former US President Barack Obama, landing a spot in his 2019 reading list.
In the Country: Stories by Mia Alvar
Manila-born and Manhattan-bred writer Mia Alvar won the prestigious PEN/Robert W. Bingham Prize for Debut Fiction in 2016 for her sensational collection of short stories. In the Country gives a voice to men and women of the Filipino diaspora, highlighting reimagined narratives from emigrants, exiles and wanderers in the ’80s.
Wicked As You Wish by Rin Chupeco
A hidden prince, a girl with secrets, a ragtag group of unlikely heroes and a legendary firebird come together in Wicked As You Wish. From the author of The Bone Witch trilogy comes this new YA fairytale. Add it to your list if you’re a fan of mythology and folklore.
How to Make Friends With the Sea by Tanya Guerrero
Set in the Philippines, a young boy feels displaced when his mother takes in an orphaned child with a cleft lip. Tanya Guerrero’s heartwarming middle-grade debut novel isn’t just for young ones, it’s for anybody “who’s ever asked where—and what—home is.”
What’s on your reading list for the month ahead? Sound off in the comments below!
Art Matthew Ian Fetalver