Philippines

Eating Fire and Drinking Water

"'I was someone hungry for stories; more specifically, I was someone who craved after facts. I was, you see, a person with no history. Lacking this, I developed a curiosity about other's people's stories. . . .'

Clara Perez is a reporter on a small South seas island. An orphan raised by nuns, she is a young woman with origins shrouded in mystery. Full of idealistic ambition, she grows tired of the trivial assignments she's given at the daily paper, yearning to write articles of substance. So when the tiny street of Calle de Leon bursts into flames after a student demonstration--and a soldier kills an unarmed man--Clara seizes the chance to cover the explosive story. Yet after Clara rushes to investigate the tragedy, she discovers another, more personal one involving some remarkable truths about her unknown past--ghosts, she realizes, which have been silently pursuing her all her life."

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State of War

"He saw clearly, immediately, that the man didn't care about the gift's value, didn't care about the gift even, but cared profoundly for the act of receiving as though the gift were a tribute, a confirmation of his self, his being, his reality. He found no pleasure in what he was taking but in the act of taking itself."

An endless festival amidst an endless war is the central theme of this Philippines novel about the Marcos era. Depicting a culture and a country in conflict during a brutal time, this book is a masterpiece and a must-read for all Filipino people.

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Noli Me Tangere (Touch Me Not) 

"At the center of Noli Me Tangere (Touch Me Not) by Philippine national hero José Rizal is the conflict against Spanish colonialism. The Philippines, which is named after King Philip II of Spain, was ruled by the Spanish empire as a colony from 1565 until the Philippine Revolution ended this rule in 1898. For his part in the Philippine Revolution, José Rizal was tried and convicted for rebellion, sedition, and conspiracy. His sentence was to be death by firing squad. Juan Crisóstomo Ibarra, the main character of Noli Me Tangere (Touch Me Not), returns to the Phillipines after a seven year absence studying in Europe. He is betrothed to the María Clara, the beautiful daughter of Captain Tiago. With this work, Rizal set out to write a novel that would expose the ills of Philippine society and in so doing created a passionate love story set against the backdrop of the political conflict against a repressive regime."

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In The Country

"These nine globe-trotting, unforgettable stories vividly give voice to the women and men of the Filipino diaspora. Here are exiles, emigrants, and wanderers uprooting their families from the Philippines to begin new lives in the Middle East, the United States, and elsewhere—and, sometimes, turning back again. 

In the Country speaks to the heart of everyone who has ever searched for a place to call home. From teachers to housemaids, from mothers to sons, Alvar’s powerful debut collection explores the universal experiences of loss, displacement, and the longing to connect across borders both real and imagined. Deeply compassionate and richly felt, it marks the emergence of a formidable new writer."

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Dogeaters

"Finalist for the National Book Award and a 2015 Wall Street Journal Book Club selection: An intense portrait of the Philippines in the late 1950s.

Dogeaters follows a diverse set of characters through Manila, each exemplifying the country’s sharp distinctions between social classes. Celebrated novelist and playwright Jessica Hagedorn effortlessly shifts from the capital’s elite to the poorest of the poor. From the country’s president and first lady to an idealist reformer, from actors and radio DJs to prostitutes, seemingly unrelated lives become intertwined."

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