Category: Philippines

Alfredo Navarro Salanga: The Birthing of Hannibal Valdez

The latest addition to my website is Alfredo Navarro Salanga‘s The Birthing of Hannibal Valdez

This short novel from the Philippines tells the story not so much of Hannibal Valdez but of his grandfather, Leon. Leon’s daughter-in-law, daughter of one of his tenants, is about to give birth to a child. Leon is sure that it will be a boy and not like his weak and unmanly son, Antonio, father of the child, but manly like his grandfather. The child is born – a boy – but the mother dies. Leon does not care as he will now he able to bring up the boy as he wishes. He is visited by a US major (the tale takes place in 1945, after the liberation of the Philippines from the Japanese by US forces). The rest of the book involves Leon telling the major about his exploits in the war against the Spanish and how he became the successful man he is today. Indeed, this book might well be called The Boasting of Leon Valdez. It i still an enjoyable tale, full of bravado and braggadocio.

Saud Alsanousi: لبامبو (The Bamboo Stalk)

The latest addition to my website is Saud Alsanousi‘s لبامبو (The Bamboo Stalk), the first Kuwaiti novel on my website. It tells the story of José/Isa, son of a Filpina woman and a Kuwaiti man. Josephine, José’s mother, goes to Kuwait to work, to escape her difficult father, traumatised after his involvement in the Vietnam War. She works for a rich family and is shown sympathy only by the son, Rashid, who talks to her, marries her and impregnates her. His family is horrified and she returns to the Philippines with her baby. Though the couple divorce and both remarry, Rashid keeps in touch and Josephine always hopes her son can return to Kuwait, where, she believes, he will have a better life. However, Rashid suddenly stops writing after the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait. We later learn that he had fought in the Kuwaiti resistance and been captured, later dying in captivity in Iraq. However, his best friend, Ghassan, contacts Josephine and invites José to Kuwait when he is a young man and off he goes. The second part of the book deals with his difficult time there, as he is not generally welcomed by his family and, in some cases, his presence is blatantly resented. Alsanousi tells an excellent story of the struggles of dealing with being of mixed race and two races of very different values and cultures.

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