May hushes to muted, indecisive thunders. June is upon us, with rainfalls that were once inhibitions. You find yourself shut in your room because of the rain and in need of a companion.
For me, that’s a cup of coffee and a good book—the perfect situation to get caught into. It’s an opportunity to lament on life as the pages you turn urge you to. Opportunities like this should not be taken for granted: It is the closest you’ll get to a session with a shrink, and we know that shrinksg—Godbless for all their help—don’t come cheap.
Or, you don’t have to lament or reflect or ruminate. A thrilling novel muffles the minute rapping of raindrops on the windowsill and wanes the insufferably cold weather—or at least it does for me. Maybe that’s just all you need.
Here are ten incredible novels that were written by Filipino authors that will (hopefully) get you through the cold weather.
Dusk by F. Sionil Jose
The first novel in the Rosales saga, Dusk paints a vivid and impassioned portrait of what it must have been like living at a time of oppression as when the Philippines was at the grasp of imperialism. In the novel, we follow an exiled family’s of starting life anew in a town called Rosales. Revered as one of the best pieces of fiction in Philippine literature, F. Sionil Jose’s Dusk is a stellar rumination in one’s place in his nation, faith, and history.
Ilustrado by Miguel Syjuco
Syjuco’s philosophically grandiose Ilustrado is a track-me-down whodunit that offers a mystery many vantage points from blogs, newspaper cuttings, and more. It follows a literary mentee, Miguel, who digs into the death of mentor, Crispin, a writer controversial for his works.
Smaller And Smaller Circles by F.H. Batacan
F.H. Batacan’s sobering take of our authorities’ incompetence is far more unflinching than the crimes committed by the psychopath central to the novel. In the seamlessly structured mystery, two Jesuit priests tail a string of gruesome killings of street children in Payatas. The novel is adapted to a 2017 film directed by Raya Martin.
Ang Sandali Ng Mga Mata by Alvin Yapan
I like Yapan’s movies. Ang Panggagahasa Kay Fe is a deeply feminist work whose biggest punchline is that about a woman submitting to the only man that treats her as one should: a kapre. His novel, Ang Sandali Ng Mga Mata, hasn’t a lot of jokes however. The story mutates from the mundane to the magical and then back, unfurling the horrors and sheathing bleakness of our own culture and history. The novel, despite its grandiosity, tells the tragedy of us—our familiarity and estrangement to it, both.
Walong Diwata ng Pagkahulog by Edgar Calabia Samar
Something of a modern classic, Samar’s ethereal exploration of Philippine mythology is crisp, exuberant, and exuding of Haruki Murakami-like wonder. The novel opens with an email sent to a friend about their hometown. From there, it’s literary magic. I wouldn’t be surprised if the pages turned itself over because this is what had happened to me, and I’m assuming to many more who ardently champion it.
Fish-Hair Woman by Merlinda Bobis
I’m never certain of what critics are referring to when they say that a writer writes so lyrically the words become cinematic. But if there’s one word I’d describe Fish-Hair Woman, it’d be that. Bobis describes scenes so vividly they unfold like a movie, leaving you wonderstruck.
Gun Dealer’s Daughter by Gina Apostol
The pages of Gina Apostol’s Gun Dealer’s Daugher are literate, but you toil for them to turn. The persistent reader, however, will be rewarded towards the novel’s denouement: a confrontation stripped of pretense that it becomes far too removed from its main character, or more accurately, from the idea of its main character.
It’s A Mens World by Bebang Siy
Bebang Siy’s wildly assertive collection of short stories—I know, not a novel but it’s gosh darn good, I promise!—It’s A Mens World is a red-eyed monster and I can’t imagine it being anything else. The stories are unscrupulously curated and binded to a taut, thought-provoking dialogue about gender equality.
Soledad’s Sister by Jose Dalisay Jr.
Jose Dalisay Jr.’s emotionally charged novel Soledad’s Sister leaves you with a wanting incompleteness. This feeling lingers as Walter and Rory’s converge when the corpse of a woman is rolled out of a plane. Soledad’s Sister unfolds with an emotional clarity unlike any other novel I’ve read.
Dogeaters by Jessica Hagedorn
Jessica Hagedorn’s Dogeaters brims with exuberance. Like in Ilustrado, events unfold from different points-of-view, plots unfurl so candidly you feel as if Hagedorn has forsaken any lick of cohesion and never turned back. However, this adds to the overall effect that rushed through me upon reading this book. Ultimately, Dogeaters is about the Filipino identity as presented in fragments and as one fragmented whole.