Local Writers You Should Check Out if You Love Haruki Murakami
by Maria Romero, May 15, 2019 5:30pm
Art by Dani Elevazo
Haruki Murakami is a novelist of magical realist fiction—a type of narrative painting a realistic view of the modern world with magical elements. Although Japanese, his works don’t only reflect Japanese culture but examines the questions concerning all humanities. Murakami’s novels explore and understand the inner core of humankind with main characters journeying into the metaphysical realm. His works made him a globally-renowned writer that he even influenced the world of our best local writers like Ricky Lee and Edgar Carabia Samar.
When it comes to magical realism infused with history and superb storytelling, Murakami would come to mind at first. In the Philippines, speculative fiction encompassing the genre of fantasy, sci-fi, horror, myths, and folk tales is the closest fiction genre to Murakami’s magical realism. If you love his works, try checking out these local authors’ works as well!
Edgar Calabia Samar
Dr. Edgar Calabia Samar is a multi-awarded author who has won the National Book Awards, including those from his Young Adult series, Janus Silang. His novel, Walong Diwata ng Pagkahulog, received the NCCA Writer’s Prize, and it was longlisted to the Man Asian Literary Prize.
Be sure to have Walong Diwata ng Pagkahulog in your reading list! It’s a story about Daniel who dreams of writing a novel who later on discovers significant things about himself as he made his way towards his dreams. Samar’s works are mostly about Philippine folklore with his unique and haunting storytelling voice. His novels’ puzzles, mysterious scenes, and strange parts made his works more appealing. This author is imaginative and he certainly holds a great future ahead of him.
Dean Francis Alfar
Dean Francis Alfar is a playwright, novelist, and writer of speculative fiction. His plays have been performed in venues across the country, while his articles and fiction novels like Strange Horizons, Rabid Transit,The Year's Best Fantasy, and series have been published internationally. His literary awards include ten Don Carlos Palanca Memorial Awards for Literature—including the Grand Prize for Novel—and the Manila Critics' Circle National Book Awards for the graphic novels Siglo: Freedom and Siglo: Passion, and the Philippines Free Press Literary Award.
Try reading Alfar’s Salamanca, a novel about the sorcery brought by love, lust, and literature—by friendship, family, and the Filipino nation. The sorcery of the title refers to the fuel that powers an imaginary Spanish galleon to soar through the skies. Reading Alfar’s book feels like reading Gabriel Garcia Marquez's Love in the Time of Cholera with magical realism, sexual characters, and Spanish-sounding names. Each page pushes you off the edge until you’re falling off a cliff with Alfar’s mystical work of art.
Yvette Natalie U. Tan is a Manila-based horror writer, whose works have been published in The Philippine Free Press, the Philippine Daily Inquirer, the Manila Times, Uno magazine, Rogue Magazine, Story Philippines, and the Philippine Genre Stories, among others. Her fictions have also appeared in anthologies such as Sleepless in Manila and Philippine Speculative Fiction II and III.
Yvette Tan is known for easy-to-read and entertaining stories with political overtones. We recommend her book Waking the Dead and Other Horror Stories—an anthology of neatly-written horror stories that will give readers a varying level of horror; horror with disgust or horror with eroticism.
Mervin Malonzo wrote and drew the National Book Award-winning comic Tabi Po. He also worked with writer Adam David on another title called Ang Subersibo, a comic adaptation of Rizal’s Noli Me Tangere and El Filibusterismo. When he is not creating comics, he is creating websites, animations, and illustrations for other people and entities.
If you want to know about his literary works, try reading Pakikisalamuha—a story about dreams and the real-life struggles after graduation. At this crucial time of a person’s life, one usually got stuck deciding on what to do with their lives and to conquer the quest of outdoing society’s expectations. Malonzo’s novels are known for its subversiveness, usually accompanied by illustrations.
Ricky Lee is a screenwriter, journalist, novelist, and playwright. He has written more than 150 film screenplays since 1973, earning him more than 50 trophies from various award-giving bodies, including a 2003 Natatanging Gawad Urian Lifetime Achievement Award from the Manunuri ng Pelikulang Pilipino (Filipino Film Critics). But as a novelist, he is known for his magical realist novels like Para Kay B and Kung Alam N’yo Lang.
Dive deeper into Lee’s imaginative world with Amapola Sa 65 Na Kabanata, a novel about a gay stage performer with alternate straight human personalities. Aside from that anomaly, she is also a manananggal—a half-bodied Filipino horror mythic character. Amapola is the savior of her crumbling nation. Lee’s novels are richly-imagined and will make readers think in the end.
Eliza Victoria is the author of several books including the National Book Award-winning Dwellers, the novel Wounded Little Gods, the graphic novel After Lambana with Mervin Malonzo, and the science fiction novel-in-stories Nightfall. Her work has won prizes in the Philippines’ top literary awards, including the Carlos Palanca Memorial Awards for Literature and the Philippines Free Press Literary Awards.
Don’t sleep on her novel Dwellers, a novella of two young men with the power to take over and inhabit other bodies. When they tried to take over the lives of brothers Jonah and Louis, which lead to a car crash. Victoria’s stories are always haunting, terrifying, and admirably mind-boggling that empathize with the characters.
Tony Perez is a fictionist and playwright in English and Filipino. Among his works are the Tatlong Paglalakbay trilogy (Bombita, Biyaheng Timog, and Sa North Diversion Road) and Noong Akala Mo'y Mahal Kita.
Cubao Midnight Express, his most-acclaimed novel, is a post-modern fiction about Cubao. It was written as if the readers were the story’s main character exploring the unknown parts of this place in Quezon City. Aside from being a writer, Pérez is also a psychotherapist which made his novels more relatable.
When diving in on the western world of literature, remember that we also have our own literature as rich and diverse as the foreign ones—even better. Pick a local book today and start browsing the pages of our local authors’ works. Got any author suggestions? Comment down your suggestions in the comment section.
- Pop Culture
- Haruki Murakami
- magical realist fiction
- Ricky Lee
- Edgar Carabia Samar
- Edgar Calabia Samar
- Walong Diwata ng Pagkahulog
- Dean Francis Alfar
- Strange Horizons
- Rabid Transit
- The Year's Best Fantasy
- Horror and the Exotic Gothic
- Yvette Tan
- Mervin Malonzo
- Eliza Victoria
- Cubao Midnight Express
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- Love Local