Danilo Cruz, the protagonist of Danton Remoto’s Riverrun, is a young Filipino man raised near an American army base. From the get-go, something about Danilo is different, and everyone in his village can make it out. Even as a young boy, going to watch television at a friend’s house, the mother responds by slamming the door in his face. His reaction is violent.
Seventy-five years ago, Japan formally surrendered to the Allied powers in a ceremony aboard the USS Missouri in Tokyo Bay, thereby ending the Second World War. War brings out the best and worst aspects of human nature—it produces remarkable heroes and cruel villains.
When Excel Maxino turns ten, his mother, Maxima, takes him to Pier 39 in San Francisco, revealing a life-changing secret: She and Excel are TNT: tago ng tago, Tagalog for hiding and hiding. In his new novel, The Son of Good Fortune, Lysley Tenorio tells a captivating story of undocumented immigrants and their never-ending resolve to remain invisible so they aren’t found out.
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.