Sunday, December 28, 2008
Following the route of revered authors Jessica Zafra and Edgar Samar, I am providing my personal list of best book acquisitions for this year (the last title I got was the Pulitzer-winning The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz of the Dominican Republic). My sole deviation is that my choices were made depending on which shelf in my private library they belong to. Also, these titles did not necessarily get published this year.
From my North American section, I have Susan Sontag’s At the Same Time: Essays and Speeches. I am overwhelmed by the contents of this title because their topics range from literary to political to cultural criticism, as may be expected from the prodigiously knowledgeable author of the groundbreaking “Notes on Camp.”
From Mesoamerica and the Caribbean section, I have Stewart Brown’s Caribbean New Wave: Contemporary Short Stories. Like other anthologies from the West Indies, this one carries themes true to the Carib experience: postcolonial struggles, local superstition and the aftermath of diaspora.
From my South American section, I have Gudie Lawaetz’ Penguin Parallel Text: Spanish Short Stories. Save for one from Spain, all stories are by Latino literary giants like Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Mario Vargas Llosa, Carlos Fuentes, Julio Cortazar, among others.
From my European section, I have Michel Foucault’s The Birth of the Clinic: An Archaeology of Medical Perception. Like Susan Sontag and Jorge Luis Borges, Michel Foucault was a voracious reader, manifested in his variety of critical productions including volumes of history of sexuality, of philosophy, of literature, of psychology and of political science.
From my African section, I have Naguib Mahfouz’ Three Novels of Ancient Egypt: Khufu’s Wisdom, Rhadopis of Nubia, Thebes at War. What do I say, this Egyptian Nobel laureate sustains my interest in the mystifying Egypt of old.
From my Asian section, I have Pramoedya Ananta Toer’s The Fugitive. Even as this novel belongs to Toer’s earliest works, the brilliance is so visible that I had no doubt the Indonesian writer should really have been a winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature by virtue of his magnificent works like the Buru Quartet.
From my Pacific section, I have David Malouf’s Remembering Babylon. This Australian novel, which also figured in the Booker Prize, deals with two interrelated topics: colonialism and racism.
From my Philippine section, I have Jose Dalisay Jr.’s Soledad’s Sister. When this Man Asian-shortlisted novel was launched in UP, I had to delay my coming to class to have my copy signed by Sir Butch (shown in photo).
From the Gay section, I have Alan Hollinghurst’s The Folding Star. Ever since I came across this British gay novelist’s Booker-winning The Line of Beauty, I have found myself scouring for other masterpieces by him such as The Spell.
And from my Anthology section, I have Alberto Manguel’s Dark Arrows: Great Stories of Revenge. This book of short stories about a classic theme is an excellent source of ideas on wielding vengeance against my detractors, haha.