cover image In Flight: Two Novels of the Philippines

In Flight: Two Novels of the Philippines

Jose Dalisay. Schaffner (IPG, dist.), $15 trade paper (396p) ISBN 978-1-936182-12-1

Dalisay's two short novels, compiled into one volume and both set in his native Philippines, are full of evocative words and images. He writes charmingly about "a country without snow and without raspberries...where coconuts fall in a rain of their own." But he also describes an ugly underbelly, where heartbreaking stories are "told in prison camp to toughen nerves." Solidad's Sister was inspired by the 600 dead Filipino overseas workers who are returned for burial each year. Killing Time in a Warm Place opens this book. Written from a perspective of many years hence, it examines youthful actions that pit friends against friends when a handwritten note leads to a major life change. This novel in particular is full of rich, riveting detail ("thuds and screams that spilled out into the already-ugly air"), whereas Solidad's Sister is less powerful. Identities are confused and altered intentionally or through bureaucratic incompetence. The situations that unfold in the novel's compacted timeframe reveal "how much worse bad can get." Though it will keep readers on the edge of their seats, a late twist is disappointing. Though Killing Time in a Warm Place is the better book, combined, both will leave readers with a lingering, haunted feeling. (May)