“The Next Big Thing,” courtesy of Marianne Villanueva

Vicente de Memije, Aspecto symbólico del mundo híspanico, 1761.

Blushing intensely right now not just because I’ve been tagged by Marianne Villanueva as “The Next Big Thing” but I’m also shamefully late in responding to the recognition, but in the spirit of better late than never, here are some musings over this meme’s query. Cheers, Marianne, for the shout out!

1. What is the working title of your book?

Sorry, this one is under wraps.

2. Where did the idea for the book come from?
For the last four or five years, I’ve been obsessed with this New York Times article: http://www.nytimes.com/2005/05/29/magazine/29FILIPINO.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0

3. What is the genre of the book?

Its all made up.

4. Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

I wish I was more current with Filipino actors, but there’s no getting around the fact it’d have to be an APC (All Pinoy Cast).

5. What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

Work-in-progress.

6. Who is publishing your book?

One step at a time, please, thank you.

7. How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

Probably a year and a half. I’ve been on negative one draft for the last two or three years…

8. What other works would you compare this book to within your genre?

I’m stealing as much as I can from Kiran Desai’s Inheritance of Loss, and I would love to nab from Carsten Jensen’s We The Drowned, but that’s just me dreaming. Oh, and there’s some heavy borrowing from Fitzgerald’s Gatsby in terms of POV and who is or who isn’t the main character.

9. Who or what inspired you to write this book?

The NY Times article cited above is the primary mover for this; there’s also my grandparents on both sides who immigrated for love and labour. A PBS documentary, The Learning, from the POV series really resonated and keeps me on the straight and narrow when I lose my way with the manuscript. I’m hoping to show my students the film this Spring 2013 when I teach for the second time L&CS 123: Modern Global Issues. The projekt is very much based on ideas about diaspora, cosmopolitanism, geography & the body, and globalization.

From the POV website:

The Learning is the story of four Filipina women who reluctantly leave their families and schools to teach in Baltimore. With their increased salaries, they hope to transform their families’ lives back in their impoverished country. But the women also bring idealistic visions of the teacher’s craft and of life in America, which soon collide with Baltimore’s tough realities. A co-production of CineDiaz and ITVS in association with The Center for Asian American Media, with funding provided by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and American Documentary | POV. (90 minutes)

Image from the International Observatory on Statelessness: All of the children were born in Sabah to illegal Filipino immigrants

Finally, DRM Irving’s Colonial Counterpoint has been a wonderful resource and fount of inspiration. Here’s just a taste on why from Chapter 1 “Colonial Capital, Global City”:

Manila was the world’s first global city. Its foundation as a Spanish colonial capital in 1571 forged the last link in a chain of trade routes that encircled the Earth. For the first time in human history, there emerged a system of transoceanic connections that allowed for the regular transport of people around the world and sustained exchange of ideas and commodities. Early modern Manila’s interstitial function in opening (and in some ways closing) the Chinese market to the world, together with its role as a cultural, commercial, and geographical nexus between Asia and the Americas–and, by extension Africa and Europe–endowed it with a global economic and political significance, outstripping that of any other city in the region…Manila was, essentially, a microcosm of the world. (19)

10. What else about your book/your writing might pique the reader’s interest?

Two words: Murder Mystery.

***

And to pay it forward, I’m expected to pass the mic around to five writers who I consider “The Next Big Thing,” and they are:

Jennie Durant

Emily Breunig

Melissa Rae Sipin-Gabon

Liz Green

Allison Landa

Here’s to a new year of writing and recognition! Much appreciated.

Excerpt on Lysley Tenorio’s Reading at San Francisco Philippine Consulate

On Wednesday November 28, after a wet and windy day, yours truly had the pleasure and honor of introducing my grad school mentor and thesis advisor fiction writer and Professor Lysley Tenorio, who’s new book, Monstress, a short story collection, was recently published by Ecco. Organized by PAWA Inc and hosted by the San Francisco Philippine Consulate, the literary event was started off with a welcome from the Consul General.

The introduction went something like this:

 A former Stegner Fellow at Stanford, Lysley Tenorio has received a Whiting Writer’s

Lysley Tenorio

Award, fellowships from The MacDowell Colony, Yaddo, and the National Endowment for the Arts. His stories have appeared in The Atlantic, Zoetrope: All-Story, Ploughshares, Manoa, The Chicago Tribune, and The Best New American Voices along with Pushcart Prize anthologies.

His latest book, Monstress published by Ecco/HarperCollins was reviewed in the New York Times where ANDREW HAIG MARTIN called his collectiona refreshingly off-kilter approach to the lives of Filipinos in America.”

Katy Waldman from SLATE.com wrote “it is the unassuming pitch of these stories that makes them so exquisitely deadly.”

And Dan Lopez in Lambda Literary described the collection saying: Hard lives and hard choices take center stage in Monstress, but this is no bleak landscape that Tenorio limns. Woven throughout the collection is a wry narrative of ambition. These characters whether they are gay or straight, American or Filipino, all share an abiding desire to succeed, their shared identity of otherness paradoxically empowering as it appears to disenfranchise. In that sense, they belong to a larger project of outsider fiction.”

To read more about the event, click here.

Rashaan Alexis Meneses