Ginseng and Other Tales from Manilla

Marianne Villanueva, Author Calyx Books $9.95 (120p) ISBN 978-0-934971-19-5
Villanueva's debut collection of probing, dreamlike tales about the Philippines during Ferdinand Marcos's dictatorship provides a haunting picture of the island's landscape and an intriguing glimpse into the minds and hearts of its people. In these 11 stories, Villanueva tells of villagers and city dwellers struggling to retain their humanity in the face of military repression. She also explores the clash between old and new values in a country overshadowed by Western influences. Despite their sorrow and confusion, Villanueva's protagonists derive strength from natural surroundings whose power she skillfully conveys. ``I have the feeling that the garden is alive and speaking to me,'' says a villager whose mother has died. ``My mother's voice comes from the heart of the trees, where the sap and the root and the life of the world come together.'' Whether she describes the ghost of a boy, slain by a corrupt colonel, ``dancing across the rice paddies'' or a graffiti artist fighting ``the will of the dictator'' with magic chalk, Villanueva pk injects a sense of forboding. Hers is a milieu where it is hard to distinguish myth from reality and lies from truth. (Aug.)
Reviewed on: 01/01/1991
Release date: 01/01/1991
Hardcover - 106 pages - 978-0-934971-20-1
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