The recommended reading lists continue to trail in at the PAWA blog. Let me start by saying that years ago on our Filipino writers list serve, we used to do these “what are you reading,” “what titles are on your radar,” “what titles are on your desk,” “what titles are on your nightstand” posts towards the end of the year, and there was some enthusiasm there, some genuine interest in others which I sometimes miss. Hence, the PAWA blog reading lists.
I am proud to say I have only heard one public list serve/e-complaint about these lists, and really, it wasn’t even directly directed at me — the fact that it was written entirely in Tagalog is already a clue that I was and was not supposed to “really” “understand” it (though I read Tagalog better than I speak it). It’s always about someone feeling excluded, and I get that no matter how diverse a spread of authors I invite to contribute as diverse lists as they can possibly muster, not every single Filipino soul of an author gets invited or mentioned. You know, such is life, and while I really do have sympathy for folks who believe themselves to be overlooked — much like the ranting emails I received earlier this year from a fellow Filipino American writer about my being too literary and therefore, an elitist — I’m simply not a fan of the manner in which these two particular complaints was made.
That said, I get why some folks in my community are reticent to state anything publicly, for not wanting to be a part of a public, exclusionary exercise, though I don’t get why a person chooses to be a published author if s/he is so worried about putting anything of theirs into public spaces, where it can be criticized, and even lambasted. But, so that I’m clear on my intentions, let me summarize here what I told Tess Holthe in an email; I am interested in what titles come into our lives and become keepsakes to us, what titles become deeply important in our lives, not only as writers, but as thinking and feeling human beings, and hence, what titles we gift or pass along to others. I believe this is part of our lives and priorities as authors; what we read deeply affects us intellectually, culturally, artistically, and yes, spiritually. As well, don’t we form communities based upon these common responses to literature, art, cultural productions? I believe we do.
Diwata has shown up in a few (e- and print) lit venues lately, most recently reviewed by Lantern Review, and for this, I am very grateful, that my book is perceived as an enjoyable read by some, perceived as noteworthy by some. Diwata has not show up in other places, and that’s just how that goes. The ego is momentarily bruised, then life goes on.
I suppose this has been my 2010, a balanced year of literary accomplishment of which I am quite proud, and then gettin’ bitch slapped by Filipinos, possibly enforcing their ideas of Hiya upon me.