Books however are another story. It’s when the quiet settles in after the holiday season when people pick up these gifts. Lying in bed, or sitting in the sofa, or killing time in the train or airplane, people will read to be entertained, or to learn something new, or perhaps even gain a stronger sense of self. If they like the books, they may pass these on to relatives and friends, which means more readers get to enjoy the gifts. This multiplier effect is another reason why books make great Christmas gifts.
I’ve put together a list of recently published books by Filipino American writers for gift-giving. Most of these titles were launched at last October’s Filipino American International Book Festival in San Francisco. My list includes established writers such as Linda Ty-Casper, Brian Ascalon Roley, Barbara Jane Reyes, Eileen Tabios, and Evelina Galang. It also includes debut books allowing readers the opportunity to hear the voices of new Filipino American writers, such as Marie Deaconu-Baylon, Veronica Montes, Renee Macalino Rutledge, and Rachelle Cruz.
Most books are available from Filipino American booksellers Arkipelago Books (https://www.arkipelagobooks.com/) and Philippine Expressions (https://philippineexpressionsbookshop.wordpress.com/). The titles are also available from Amazon and the books’ publishers. These books will leave you wanting to read more books by Filipino American writers.
Marie Deaconu-Baylon - North for Sun (2017), a debut novel, is about a Filipino American woman with mental illness who can travel in time. While awaiting an upcoming procedure that may affect her memory, Martha writes a book for herself.
Cecilia Manguerra Brainard - The Newspaper Widow (University of Santo Tomas Publishing House 2017). This poetic new novel is a literary murder mystery set in the Philippines in 1909 during the early years of the United States’ colonial empire in Asia.
Linda Ty-Casper - A River, One-Woman Deep: Stories (Philippine American Literary House 2017) collects the author’s novella and short stories. Linda Ty-Casper’s Filipina and Filipina-American protagonists’ struggle to discover their personal identity are complicated by historical events of their homeland.
Veronica Montes - Benedicta Takes Wing and Other Stories (Philippine American Literary House 2018) – This debut collection includes fourteen stories wherein Montes explores the intricate workings of Filipino families in America as they struggle to define their place in the world.
Randy Ribay - After the Shot Drops (HMH Books for Young Readers 2018). The lives of two teen boys who live in a gritty inner city change when one of them is given a basketball scholarship to an elite private school.
Brian Ascalon Roley - The Last Mistress of Jose Rizal (Curbstone Books 2016) is a collection of poignant and intimate interlinked stories that deal with Filipino characters in diaspora in the United States.
Renee Macalino Rutledge - The Hour of Daydreams (Forest Avenue Press 2017). This novel reimagines the Philippine folktale about the Star Maiden who had wings and who could fly to the stars. In this modern retelling a doctor from the countryside steals the wings of Tala, the Star Maiden.
Prosy Abarquez-Delacruz - Even the Rainbow Has a Body: Distinct Artistic Legacies (Eastwind Books of Berkeley 2016) collects vignettes about Filipino American playwrights, musicians, photographers, writers, and artists.
Mila De Guzman - Women Against Marcos: Stories of Filipino and Filipino American Women Who Fought a Dictator (Carayan Press 2016). In featuring six women activists who were part of the thousands of women involved with the anti-Marcos movement in the 1980s, this books hopes to educate young Filipinos about the atrocities of the Marcos dictatorship.
M. Evelina Galang - Lolas' House: Filipino Women Living With War (Northwestern University Press 2017) tells the stories of sixteen surviving Filipino “comfort women” as testimony that no woman should ever have to suffer wartime rape and torture as these women did during World War Two.
Myles Garcia - Of Adobo, Apple Pie, and Schnitzel with Noodles (2017) collects essays about the Filipino American experience and other favorite topics of the author.
Constance Valencia Santos & Victoria Santos - Memoirs of Manang: A Story of a Filipina American Pioneer (Eastwind Books of Berkeley 2015). A Filipina recounts the 1929 journey with her mother from a small province in the Philippines to Chicago.
Christina Newhard – Melo, Kalipay, and Amina (Sari-Sari Storybooks 2016) are three children’s books that are beautifully illustrated and which target Filipino children from 5-8 years old. The books promote language renewal by targeting young speakers of languages like Ivatan, Cebuano, Chavacano, Wary, Ayta, and Meranaw.
Justine Villanueva – Mama, Mama, Know What I Like? (Sawaga River Press 2016). This trilingual book (English, Bisaya, and Pilipino) features a Filipino American five-year-old boy who shares his zest for life with his mother.
Aileen Cassinetto - The Art of Salamat (Locofo Chaps 2017) collects the poetry of San Mateo Country Poet Laureate finalist and publisher of Paloma Press.
Rachelle Cruz - God's Will for Monsters (Inlandia 2017) uses narrative prose, faux scholarly excerpts and other seemingly banal transactions in this book of experimental poetry that looks at the author’s own life, history and ethnicity.
Robert Francis Flor - Alaskero Memories (Carayan Press 2016) is a poem series that recalls the writer’s early years working in the Alaskan canneries.
Barbara Jane Reyes - Invocation to Daughters (City Lights Books 2017), an experimental work, is a book of prayers, psalms, and odes for Filipino girls and women trying to survive and make sense of their own situations.
Joseph O. Legaspi - Threshold (CavanKerry Press 2017) are poems that celebrate the courageous journey across boundaries, the intersections between liminal space, and the tenacity to endure.
Giovanni Ortega - Ang Gitano (Carayan Press 2017) is a multilingual collection of prose and poetry about the longing one carries when they leave home and the nostalgia that follows upon their return.
Sasha Pimentel – For Want of Water (Beacon Press, 2017) was selected as winner of the 2016 National Poetry Series. The collection draws a line between the mirror cities of El Paso and Ciudad Juarez while the author’s native Philippines looms in the background.
Angela Peñaredondo - All Things Lose Thousands of Times (Inlandia Institute 2016) is a debut collection of body/migratory/incantatory poems, exploring the alchemy and ritual of poetics that stem from the space of in-between or realm of intersections.
Tony Robles - Fingerprints of a Hunger Strike (Ithuriel's Spear Press 2017). The poems travel the streets of San Francisco in search of hope and recognition of those overlooked and marginalized, bringing to the surface their pain and join in glimpses that have been preserved in the poet’s eye.
Janice Sapigao - Like a Solid to a Shadow (Timeless, Infinite Light 2017) is a documentary poetry collection about grieving, fatherlessness, and the limitations of language.
Eileen Tabios - Manhattan: An Archaelogy (Paloma Press 2017) presents the author’s latest innovative approach to poetry-making wherein she uses a set of “artifacts” to excavate a version of New York City’s historical birthplace.
Wesley St. Jo, & Reme Grefalda - Blue (Paloma Press 2017). With its glossy pages, blue and black ink, illustrations, and numerous typefaces, Blue looks and reads with the speed of a children’s picture book, but don’t mistake the design for simplicity because Blue invites and rewards with multiple readings.
Cecilia Manguerra Brainard is the author and editor of 20 books including her recent novel, The Newspaper Widow (University of Santo Tomas Publishing House, 2017). Her official website ishttp://www.ceciliabrainard.com.
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