Salamanca by Dean Francis Alfar

A thing about Filipino fiction that I’m beginning to notice: You don’t quite know where the mythos begins and ends. On one hand Salamanca is a lot like The Unbearable Lightness of Being. It features characters that follow their passions and sees where it takes them; it asks questions about burdens, identity, and family, testing and poking at the reader’s personal philosophy with a raised eyebrow at said philosophy’s realism. (Or at least, mine.)

On the other hand, there are houses that turn into glass out of the power of beauty, and spirits that bless villagers for the sacrifice of children. It’s weird and savage and clever, if you don’t mind a bit of confusion.

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Smaller and Smaller Circles by F.H. Batacan

I and the public know

What all schoolchildren learn.

Those to whom evil is done

Do evil in return.

– H. Auden

This excerpt of a poem opens one of the chapters in Smaller and Smaller Circles—and is arguably the novel’s thesis statement.

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