Fiction

Finding An Uncommon Type, with Tom Hanks (A Book Review)

I have a confession to make: I don’t really care much for Tom Hanks the actor, but I am quite impressed by Tom Hanks the writer.  When Uncommon Type: Some Stories by Tom Hanks was released, I was immediately intrigued. I usually ignore books by celebrities and dismiss them, with the exception of The Autobiography of Gucci Mane which … Continue reading Finding An Uncommon Type, with Tom Hanks (A Book Review)

Beyond the Rice Fields with Naivo

Ravinkazo nanintsana Ka ny lasa tsy azo ahoana Fa ny sisa ampanirina Leaves falling There’s no protecting those that drop But those that stay are made to grow (Malagasy Hainteny) First, an embarrassing confession: I am woefully ignorant about Madagascar, the Malagasy people and the Malagasy culture. It wasn’t until I signed up for Restless Books monthly … Continue reading Beyond the Rice Fields with Naivo

#GetLit this January 2k18

Halfway into the month and I’m just sharing this month’s reading list! Truth be told, I’ve been slow to start this year with my reading, and I’m finally wrapping up some books I started back in 2017. This month, I’d like to keep it real, keep it slow. In the past, I’ve sped through books … Continue reading #GetLit this January 2k18

#GetLit This Holiday: A Literary Guide to Family Parties

Note: This post was originally published on HellaPinay.com. You ready for another Filipino family party? With the end of 2k17 just around the corner, you know there’s bound to be an endless supply of pancit, lumpia and possibly (hopefully), lechon. Not to mention all the do-do’s as my family calls ‘em: asado (stewed pork or chicken dish), menudo (another … Continue reading #GetLit This Holiday: A Literary Guide to Family Parties

Who Run the World? Girls! With Naomi Alderman (A Book Review of “The Power”)

“I was attracted to science fiction because it was so wide open. I was able to do anything and there were no walls to hem you in and there was no human condition that you were stopped from examining.” —Octavia Butler I remember reading Octavia Butler’s book once, the first time I’ve ever been drawn … Continue reading Who Run the World? Girls! With Naomi Alderman (A Book Review of “The Power”)

A Lifetime of Looking, with Lisa Ko (A Book Review of “The Leavers”)

Days after reading Lisa Ko’s The Leavers (Amazon | Indiebound), one question lingered in my mind: can we really spare our loved ones the most gory, painful thing in our lives in order to save them–whatever “saving” looks like? The story is written in the same format Arundhati Roy’s latest book The Ministry of Utmost Happiness, where you … Continue reading A Lifetime of Looking, with Lisa Ko (A Book Review of “The Leavers”)

Deviant Lives, with Carmen Maria Machado (A Book Review of ‘Her Body and Other Parties’)

I picked up Carmen Maria Machado’s book of short stories Her Body and Other Parties (Amazon | Indiebound) after seeing it on the National Book Awards shortlist for fiction. The title first drew me. I looked up to see who Machado was and found she’s a queer Latinx (yes!), which made me want to read her work … Continue reading Deviant Lives, with Carmen Maria Machado (A Book Review of ‘Her Body and Other Parties’)

The Woman’s Lot, with Min Jin Lee (A Book Review of ‘Pachinko’)

As I write this, Trump’s visit to Southeast Asia is underway. The 12-day tour in Japan, South Korea, China, Vietnam and the Philippines reflects the increasing importance of the region tied to American interests, in aspects of geopolitics and economics. South Korea is his second stop, and I think about the increasing provocation from his … Continue reading The Woman’s Lot, with Min Jin Lee (A Book Review of ‘Pachinko’)

Nesting on Fire, with Celeste Ng (A Book Review of ‘Little Fires Everywhere’)

Sometimes all the hype turns out to be the real thing. You know a book’s about to be B-I-G when all the book sites are talking about it, when emails pop up in your inbox with that one book over and over again. Before I even knew what it was about, Celeste Ng‘s Little Fires Everywhere (Amazon | … Continue reading Nesting on Fire, with Celeste Ng (A Book Review of ‘Little Fires Everywhere’)

Sunshine Like a Stick of Butter, with Rachel Khong (A Book Review of ‘Goodbye, Vitamin: A Novel’)

It was just few years ago when my grandmother, who I was named after, started leaving plates of food on the table. For my grandfather, she says. At that time my gramps, a notorious womanizer, has been dead for at least 10 years. She then started accusing household help of stealing items she’s kept away, … Continue reading Sunshine Like a Stick of Butter, with Rachel Khong (A Book Review of ‘Goodbye, Vitamin: A Novel’)

The Way We See Things, with Fiona Mozley (A Book Review of ‘Elmet’)

Count Elmet (Amazon) by Fiona Mozley as an unexpectedly beautiful read, a tender tome of family and loyalty. As with the other titles on the Man Book Prize, I wouldn’t have explored this book if it weren’t for my #FinestFiction reading challenge. This felt a little like reading Autumn by Ali Smith, to go beyond the first few pages … Continue reading The Way We See Things, with Fiona Mozley (A Book Review of ‘Elmet’)

The Legacy of Shame, with Kamila Shamsie (A Book Review of ‘Home Fire’)

“I pledged to ISIS in January 2015 and left in March,” said Raad Abdullah Ahmad, 31. “My family disowned me after that. Imagine having no family. I left because I didn’t like what they did to people.” —ISIS Fighters, Having Pledged to Fight or Die, Surrender En Masse (NYT) When I read the lines above … Continue reading The Legacy of Shame, with Kamila Shamsie (A Book Review of ‘Home Fire’)

Loving in Ireland, with John Boyne (A Book Review of ‘The Heart’s Invisible Furies’)

Before I picked up John Boyne’s The Heart’s Invisible Furies (Indiebound), I must confess that I barely knew anything about Ireland. The most I’ve read about the country and its history was from Michael Pollan’s book The Botany of Desire, wherein he mostly talked about how a crop, the infamous potato, from a historical, political and epistemological context in … Continue reading Loving in Ireland, with John Boyne (A Book Review of ‘The Heart’s Invisible Furies’)

On Separation, Family & Revolution, with Derek Palacio (A Book Review of ‘The Mortifications’)

I first heard of Cuba when I read Assata Shakur’s memoir Assata: An Autobiography (Amazon| Indiebound)  as a young Filipino immigrant. I had no knowledge of the country, only that there was a strict embargo in place, but I knew it had to be a good place, good enough to give refuge to a black revolutionary woman. … Continue reading On Separation, Family & Revolution, with Derek Palacio (A Book Review of ‘The Mortifications’)

Reading the World with Ali Smith (A Book Review of ‘Autumn: A Novel’)

“What you reading?” This was the question Daniel Gluck, an older man (almost a century old) with the wisest soul would ask Elisabeth, his new, young neighbor every time they took walks. Before you go down that route, it’s not what you think. Autumn: A Novel (Amazon | Indiebound) by Ali Smith is a novel set … Continue reading Reading the World with Ali Smith (A Book Review of ‘Autumn: A Novel’)

A Balm to Many Wounds, with Jesmyn Ward (A Book Review of ‘Sing, Unburied, Sing: A Novel’)

Reading Jesmyn Ward’s Sing, Unburied, Sing was like having a deep, deep breath lodged in the cavity of my chest, something I held on to for its entirety. Ward’s newest novel isn’t for the faint of heart either, but for someone who’s strong of will, someone who can understand the gravity of what it means to be … Continue reading A Balm to Many Wounds, with Jesmyn Ward (A Book Review of ‘Sing, Unburied, Sing: A Novel’)

On Love & Refuge, with Mohsin Hamid (A Book Review of “Exit West”)

When Warsan Shire, Nigerian poet wrote No one leaves home unless home is the mouth of a shark, I knew that in spite of my experiences as an immigrant, I knew nothing about being a refugee. Since the refugee crisis broke in the Middle East, I’ve read different stories about the forced migration of millions of … Continue reading On Love & Refuge, with Mohsin Hamid (A Book Review of “Exit West”)

The Ways We Choose to Live, with Magda Szabó (A Book Review)

Assuming that someone could vouch for us, and assure her that neither of us were likely to brawl or get drunk, we might perhaps discuss the matter again. I stood there dumbfounded. This was the first time anyone had required references from us. “I don’t wash just anyone’s dirty linen,” she said. I grew up … Continue reading The Ways We Choose to Live, with Magda Szabó (A Book Review)

June’s Reading List 

Ah, June — the beginning of summer, of sun-kissed bare shoulders dotting sandy white shores, the season of the infamous beach reads. But before I get into the nitty gritty of that, here are this month’s reading list: Lualhati Bautista’s Desaparesidos, timely because of the Philippines’s current situation (martial law declared in the southern region); The Nine Guardians by … Continue reading June’s Reading List 

May’s Reading List

The month of May is a lot of things: May Day or International Workers’ Day (May 1), Mental Health Awareness Month, Memorial Day in the U.S., Mother’s Day (May 14), Asian Pacific American Heritage Month and Malcolm X Day (May 19) among a slew of other celebrations and observances. I’m still reading Andrea Wulf’s The Invention of … Continue reading May’s Reading List

What We Really Talk About When We Talk About Love, with Alain de Botton

…is a lot of romanticism. It’s in the movies we watch, the books we read, the music we listen to. From Disney “Princess” films to books and movies inspired by Nicholas Sparks, the irresistible charm of romance permeates our culture. It’s the nostalgia of the fairy tale, it is its allure that keeps us affirming star-crossed … Continue reading What We Really Talk About When We Talk About Love, with Alain de Botton

Remembering the Grief and Reality of War, with Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

I finished reading Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s novel Half of a Yellow Sun a day before April 14, 2016, which marks the 2nd anniversary of #BringBackOurGirls. Back in 2014, the militant group Boko Haram kidnapped about 276 Nigerian schoolgirls from the Chibok Government Secondary School in the middle of the night. Over the weekend, Pope Francis also … Continue reading Remembering the Grief and Reality of War, with Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie