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A space to encourage writing of Filipino American literature and the arts




Philippine American Writers and Artists blog for lit/arts events, reviews, news, and opportunities.

Filtering by Tag: Jessica Hagedorn

Publication: Manila Noir



Launched with the summer ’04 award-winning best-seller Brooklyn Noir, Akashic Books continues its groundbreaking series of original noir anthologies. Each book is comprised of all-new stories, each one set in a distinct neighborhood or location within the geographical area of the book.

Original stories by Lourd De Veyra, Gina Apostol, Budjette Tan & Kajo Baldisimo, F.H. Batacan, Jose Dalisay Jr., Eric Gamalinda, Jessica Hagedorn, Angelo Lacuesta, R. Zamora Linmark, Rosario Cruz-Lucero, Sabina Murray, Jonas Vitman, Marianne Villanueva, and Lysley Tenorio.

One of the most populous cities in the world, Manila provides the ideal, torrid setting for noir. It’s where the rich rub shoulders with the poor, where five-star hotels coexist with informal settlements, where religious zeal coexists with superstition, where “hospitality” might be another word for prostitution, where politics is often synonymous with celebrity and corruption, where violence is nothing out of the ordinary and pretty much anything can be had for a price.

From the Introduction by Jessica Hagedorn:

“Manila is not for the faint of heart. Built on water and reclaimed land, it’s an intense, congested, teeming megalopolis, the vital core of an urban network of sixteen cities and one municipality collectively known as Metro Manila. Population: over ten million and growing by the minute. Climate: tropical. Which means hot, humid, prone to torrential monsoon rains of biblical proportions.

I think of Manila as the ultimate femme fatale. Complicated and mysterious, with a tainted, painful past. She’s been invaded, plundered, raped, and pillaged, colonized for four hundred years by Spain and fifty years by the US, bombed and pretty much decimated by Japanese and American forces during an epic, month-long battle in 1945.

Yet somehow, and with no thanks to the corrupt politicians, the crime syndicates, and the indifferent rich who rule the roost, Manila bounces back. The people’s ability to endure, adapt, and forgive never ceases to amaze, whether it’s about rebuilding from the latest round of catastrophic flooding, or rebuilding from the ashes of a horrific world war, or the ashes of the brutal, twenty-year dictatorship of Ferdinand Marcos . . .

Many years have passed since the end of the Marcos dictatorship. People are free to write and say what they want, yet nothing is different. The poor are still poor, the rich are still rich, and overseas workers toil in faraway places like Saudi Arabia, Israel, Germany, and Finland. Glaring inequities are a source of dark humor to many Filipinos, but really just another day in the life . . .

Writers from the Americas and Europe are known for a certain style of noir fiction, but the rest of the world approaches the crime story from a culturally unique perspective. In Manila Noir we find that the genre is flexible enough to incorporate flamboyant emotion and the supernatural, along with the usual elements noir fans have come to expect: moody atmospherics, terse dialogue, sudden violence, mordant humor, a fatalist vision.”

To listen to a radio interview with editor Jessica Hagedorn on The Blood-Jet Writing Hour, please click here.


10/22/2011: Queens Poet Lore presents Ebolusyon Finale: Jessica Hagedorn & R. Zamora Linmark


With great enthusiasm, we invite you to a very special reading by distinguished novelists Jessica Hagedorn and R. Zamora Linmark on Saturday, October 22, 630 pm, in the historic neighborhood of Sunnyside, Queens. Hagedorn and Linmark’s experimental novels Dogeaters (Penguin) and Rolling the Rs (Kaya Press) are landmarks in American literature, and continue to blaze a trail for Philippine American writers. Both authors will read from their critically acclaimed new novels, Toxicology (Viking, 2011) and Leche (Coffee House Press, 2011), which will be available for sale at the event. A brief Q&A, book-signing, and reception will follow the reading. This event marks the finale to Ebolusyon: A Gathering of Philippine American Artists in Queens, presented in recognition of October's Philippine Heritage Month by Queens Poet Laureate Paolo Javier. The program consists of a pair of art residencies and openings, digital film screenings, readings, and talks by some of today's innovative Fil Am artists and writers, including celebrated poet/novelists Jessica Hagedorn and R. Zamora Linmark; Astoria painter/collagist Marietta Ganapin and Brooklyn painter Ernest Concepcion; University of Washington historian Vicente L. Rafael; and Elmhurst's own Guggenheim recipient for filmmaking, Lav Diaz. Seating is limited at the space, and guests are encouraged to rsvp to

Queens Poet Lore presents Ebolusyon: A Gathering of Philippine American Artists in Queens Finale featuring Jessica Hagedorn and R. Zamora Linmark Bliss on Bliss Art Projects 41-49 45th Street (at 43rd Avenue), ground floor* Sunnyside, New York 11104

DIRECTIONS: At the 46th Street stop of the 7 train, walk northwest (TMobile side of Queens Blvd) towards 43rd avenue. The space is just off the northeast corner of 43rd Avenue (across from Rite Aid), with entrance at the black gate of the driveway on 45th Street. Please note possible service changes to the 7 train on the weekend.

Jessica Hagedorn, a novelist, poet, and playwright, was born and raised in the Philippines and moved to the United States in her teens. Her books include the novels Dogeaters (a finalist for the National Book Award and the recipient of an American Book Award) The Gangster of Love, Dream Jungle (a New York Times Notable Book), and Danger and Beauty, a collection of selected poetry and short fiction. Hagedorn was the editor of the Asian American fiction anthology Charlie Chan is Dead. She lives in New York City.

Poet, novelist, and playwright R. Zamora Linmark is the author of two novels, Leche (May 2011, Coffee House Press), and the best-selling novel Rolling the R’s (Kaya Press), as well as three collections of poetry, Prime Time Apparitions, The Evolution of a Sigh, and the forthcoming Drive By Vigils, all from Hanging Loose Press. A recipient of numerous grants and fellowships, including two from the Fulbright Foundation, a Creative Writing Fellowship in Poetry from the National Endowment for the Arts, and a U.S.–Japan Friendship Commission, he has published in numerous journals and anthologies in the U.S. and the Philippines. His stage adaptation of Rolling the R’s premiered in Honolulu in 2008 to critical and commercial success. Linmark divides his time between Manila and Honolulu.

Praise for Hagedorn's Toxicology (Viking, 2011):

“As the brilliant chronicler of the Filipino-American experience, Jessica Hagedorn has tackled in the past large themes such as the tragic consequences of colonialism, and the destructive structures of corruption it legates to the colonized. With Toxicology, her best, and most daring, novel so far, she has broken new ground by writing with naked brutality, but also with piercing humor and great wisdom, about what it means to be a New Yorker at the beginning of the 21st century. Toxicology is an indelible portrait of how we live today.” –Jaime Manrique

“…An eclectic mix of differing voices, dream sequences, interviews, and snippets of memoir, as well as straight narrative all overlaid with Hagedorn’s darkly humorous perspective. Her characters are complex and sympathetic, and each has a distinctive voice full of pain, longing, and love.” —Library Journal

Praise for Linmark's Leche (Coffee House Press, 2011):

“Linmark delivers a harrowing tale of love, family, and cultural bewilderment, a sardonically funny and vibrant novel about one man’s journey to his past. . . . Linmark’s novel reads like a bittersweet love letter to a vast and perplexing nation. This is a story of heritage, sexuality, and self-discovery that is as riveting as its locale is complex.” —Booklist

“Much like Linmark’s delightful debut novel . . . Leche manages to be at once formally inventive and compulsively readable. With its non-stop action and experimental structure—interspersing postcard correspondence, dream sequences, and, best of all, tongue-in-cheek “Tourist Tips” and entries from “Decolonization for Beginners” that cannily anticipate the book’s own potential misreading as little more than an opportunity for some cross-cultural eavesdropping—Leche educates and entertains in equal measure.” —Lambda Literary

Review: Jessica Hagedorn's Toxicology


Jessica Hagedorn’s addictive Toxicology:The wretched lives of struggling New York artists make for vivid reading from the author of Dogeaters

By: Ruel S. De Vera, Philippine Daily Inquirer

An excerpt:

This certainly isn’t for everyone. As a novel, “Toxicology” is all sharp edges and extended elbows. It’s an unconventional book that seeks to blindside you with the violence of its characters’ needs and the weight of all they have lost.

It reminds one of Darren Aronofsky’s film “Requiem for a Dream,” but where Aronofsky’s characters are shown in the process of devolving because of their drug use, “Toxicology” shows characters who have been immersed in their addiction for too long.

Hagedorn keeps you guessing with a continually changing format for her narration, the story changing shape to match whatever fearful goal Hagedorn has set for that particular chapter.

Read more.