Saturday, August 20, 2016

buwan ng mga akdang pinoy: feast and famine, stories of negros by rosario cruz lucero

To continue our celebration of Buwan ng mga Akdang Pinoy, here’s another literary work that deserves all the praises it gets and, I believe, deserves the need for this masterpiece to be required reading for both casual readers and lovers of literature. This is Rosario Cruz Lucero’s short story collection Feast and Famine: Stories of Negros. This is so far the best collection of stories by a Filipino writer that I’ve ever read, and I am not kidding. It features an array of genres: domestic realism, historical fiction, mystery, even magical realism. But the real and impressive triumph here is how all of these variations feel connected, seamless, and unassuming. It never felt jarring. It is not because of the language or the sprinkling of local Bisayan here and there, and definitely not just the setting of Negros Island where most of the stories' actions take place. I believe it is Lucero's expert handling of the characters’ psyches, the situations or how point A leads to point C and reverts back to point B, and the timeless expressions of misery and joy amidst a backdrop of culture and traditions that are so vivid and well-realized. I can’t stop gushing about this collection since the very first time I stumbled upon it in 2006. From time to time, I return to this work whenever I needed reminding how wonderfully singular and original the Filipino sensibility. For a slim book, it packs a lot of punch. And I am telling you, you better prepare for it.

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