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Lakeshore
An author of no particular popularity

Jay Lake
Date: 2011-01-18 05:27
Subject: [books] Salamanca by Dean Francis Alfar
Security: Public
Tags:books, reviews
Yesterday on the plane I finished reading Salamanca by Dean Francis Alfar. I was utterly charmed by this book, which won the Grand Prize in the 2005 Palanca Awards, a signal literary honor in the Philippines. I suppose the best way to describe the book is as Filipino magic realism. Salamanca holds obvious kinship to Latin American fabulism, but it stems from a different tradition.

It's a short novel, told in several sections, about the life of a fabulist writer named Gaudencio Rivera in the post World War II era. The book wanders in time and space between an isolated rural village, Manila, and various locales in the United States. The story manages not to fall into the cliched writing-about-writer traps, largely because of the intersection between lyrical style and the underlying examination of the soul of a dissolute man.

Salamanca wasn't written for an American audience. I know enough about Filipino history and culture to understand at least some of the nuances of the setting and background action, but certainly I missed far more than I caught. I really enjoyed this aspect of the book, fiction serving almost incidentally as a window into another society.

I have no idea how available Alfar's book is here in the United States, but it's worth some trouble to pick up if you can. I have one or two other pieces by him that I'll be reading as time permits. In the meantime, here's a link to Alfar's short story, "L'Aquilone du Estrellas (The Kite of Stars)".

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User: joycemocha
Date: 2011-01-18 13:44 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Thanks for the note. I'll look for it in the bookstore up on the Mountain (the Wy'East is as good as Powell's for some items, and I often prefer to order books through them rather than Powell's).
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(no subject) - (Anonymous)
Jay Lake
User: jaylake
Date: 2011-01-18 23:01 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
It was quite a lovely book. Well, "lovely" might not be the right word. Still, I enjoyed it immensely. Thanks for the links!
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User: (Anonymous)
Date: 2011-01-19 02:55 (UTC)
Subject: thanks!
Dear Jay,

I'm very happy you enjoyed the book! Thanks for making my day :)

Best,

Dean
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pingback_bot
User: pingback_bot
Date: 2011-01-19 23:26 (UTC)
Subject: Review of Dean Alfar’s “Salamanca” by Jay Lake
User rocketkapre referenced to your post from Review of Dean Alfar’s “Salamanca” by Jay Lake saying: [...] There’s a new review online [...]
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pingback_bot
User: pingback_bot
Date: 2011-01-19 23:27 (UTC)
Subject: Review of Dean Alfar’s “Salamanca” by Jay Lake
User rocketkapre referenced to your post from Review of Dean Alfar’s “Salamanca” by Jay Lake saying: [...] There’s a new review online [...]
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