5 Filipino Authors to Watch in 2018
By Kristine Cannon
Reading a great novel transports you to another place and time, where you become so emotionally attached to the characters and become so entrenched in a story, it’s impossible to put down. Be it a fantastical story about mythical creatures or a pure love story between two star-crossed lovers, great books can have a way of making you feel so deeply connected to its characters. And when the book seemingly reflects your own heritage and culture? Now that’s a whole other story.
And yet, sometimes, it can be difficult to find novels that truly speak to you, particularly if you’re a minority. Case in point: Filipino-American authors can honestly be hard to come by in the States.
According to a survey in 2015, the American publishing industry is overwhelmingly white and female (79 percent), while Asians, Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islander making up just 7.2 percent of staff.
“Does the lack of diverse books closely correlate to the lack of diverse staff?” asks publisher Jason Low. “The percentages, while not exact, are proportional to how the majority of books look nowadays – predominately white. Cultural fit would seem to be relevant here.”
To answer Low’s question: Likely. But that doesn’t mean diverse, POC writers aren’t out there. In fact, we’ve found five Filipino authors making a name for themselves this year. And they are…
Elaine Castillo’s America Is Not the Heart
Photo credit: Chicago Tribune
Elaine Castillo recently released America Is Not the Heart, a novel described by Publisher’s Weekly as a “contemporary saga of an extended Filipino family.” The book is multi-generational family epic centered on a Filipino doctor, Hero de Vera, disowned by her parents and forced to leave the Philippines. She moves in with her uncle in the San Francisco Bay Area and embarks on a new life.
The novel has made its way onto several “must read in 2018” lists, and already has glowing reviews, including this one from Vogue: “A saga rich with origin myths, national and personal … Castillo is part of a younger generation of American writers instilling literature with a layered sense of identity.”
We can’t wait to pick it up.
Photo Courtesy by SAVVY Contemporary
Roshani Chokshi’s Pandava Series
Photo credit: Amazon
Roshani Chokshi, a Filipino-American, grew up in Georgia and is the New York Times bestselling author of The Star-Touched Queen, which was released in 2016. NYT described the teen sci-fi and fantasy book as a “vibrantly imaginative and gracefully written” and a “dazzling, sensuous feast of world-building, romance, and mythology.” More recently, though, Chokshi released a new children’s book in March of this year called Aru Shah and the End of Time, book 1 of the Pandava Series. The book, in which Chokshi uses Hindu mythology, cosmology and folklore as the foundation, is a coming-of-age story about 12-year-old Aru Shah.
Chokshi has many accolades under her belt: She’s the 2016 finalist for the Andre Norton Award, she’s a 2016 Locus finalist for Best First Novel, and she was longlisted for the British Fantasy Science Award thanks to her short story, The Star Maiden. And we can’t wait to see what else she has in store.
Photo Courtesy by Westwood Horizon
Amae Dechavez’s The Secrets That We Keep
Photo Courtesy by YSRealm
Amae Dechavez describes herself as a digitally self-published Filipino author and children’s book writer. However, her newest release, a collaborative effort between herself and four other authors — The Secrets That We Keep: A #HeistClub New Blood Anthology — is anything but. The Secrets That We Keep is a crime fiction novel, quite the departure from writing children’s books. In an interview with Bookbed, she explained why she decided to flip the script and venture away from children’s books temporarily.
“First, my late father was a law enforcer,” Dechavez says. “Second, as a writer, I want to try my hand at writing other genres aside from fantasy, horror/paranormal, YA/romance, and children’s fiction.” She continues to explain what she hopes readers get from The Secrets That We Keep, saying, “The most fulfilling part [is] getting your message across. I think this is the reason why crime fiction makes for a great tool for igniting social change, if not, then at least social awareness.”
Rina Ayuyang’s Blame This on the Boogie
Photo credit: Amazon
Rina Ayuyang, an Eisner and Ignatz-nominated cartoonist based in Oakland, California, is set to release her newest graphic novel, Blame This on the Boogie, in October of this year. The novel chronicles the real-life adventures of a Filipino-American girl who tackles life’s hardships with song and dance.
In the past, Ayuyang’s unique style of storytelling has received her much praise. According to Hyphen Magazine, “[Ayuyang’s comics] delightfully revolve around everyday subjects with a subtle humor that points out life’s small absurdities,” and the Pittsburgh Tribune says Ayuyang’s autobiographical stories “find something wondrous in the kind of moments that most let slip past without a thought.”
Photo Courtesy by THE TINY REPORT
Dawn Lanuza’s The Last Time I’ll Write About You
Popular Filipino contemporary romance, YA fiction and poetry author, Dawn Lanuza, released her debut poetry collection, The Last Time I’ll Write About You, back in 2016; but in January 2018, it was finally released in paperback. The second you open this book, you’ll find poems about all facets of love: finding it, losing it and how difficult it truly is to start all over and open your heart back up.
According to Amazon, book reviewer Sab of Sab The Book Eater, said of the collection of poems: “[This is poetry] that hits you right in the feels. The magic of Lanuza’s writing flows effortlessly with every piece. Definitely left wanting more.”
Photo Courtesy by Dawn Lanuza