Back in the day, whenever one was in a waiting room or vestibule, one would likely come across a copy of “Reader’s Digest”, which would include a diverse selection of pieces, often abridged, often extracts from elsewhere: easy reading, something to interest anyone and everyone, thought-provoking but not enough to require too much mental exertion.
Agnès Bun’s collection of vignettes echoes Theodor Adorno’s famous comment that “There can be no poetry after Auschwitz.” All debates surrounding the quote aside, how does one manage to express anything at all when faced with the extremes of human suffering? I guess one way would be poetic language, because it oozes out of the pages of this short but powerful book.
The story of the Jewish refugees in Asia during World War II almost always centers on Shanghai. Plenty of books, movies, and plays tell how twenty thousand German and Eastern European Jews found their way to Shanghai when most of the world had closed their borders to Jews. But there was another place in Asia that also took in Jews fleeing Nazi Germany and Poland in the late 1930s: the Philippines.
The Philippine economy has, relative to both its history and many other parts of the world, seen something of a recent boom. Yet although the poverty rate has plunged by about a third in the three years to 2018, Filipinos leaving their country for a future abroad still abound. Longtime New York Times reporter Jason DeParle explores global migration through a tightly-woven biography of a Filipino migrant family in A Good Provider Is One Who Leaves: One Family and Migration in the 21st Century.
Ricco Villanueva Siasoco knows a good lede when he writes one: “Viva wants her boobs back”. So starts the first story in this debut collection.
In a welcome development for new voices and regional literature, Penguin Southeast Asia began publishing in Singapore in May. Among its first titles are two collections of short stories, The Heartsick Diaspora by Elaine Chiew, and Cursed and Other Stories by Noelle Q De Jesus.
The Foley Artist: Stories is the much-awaited debut by Ricco Villanueva Siasoco—an incisive, probing work for fans and readers of the Filipino America brought vividly to life in the fiction of Elaine Castillo and Mia Alvar.