Monday, December 03, 2007

fiction people want to read

Butch Dalisay's latest columns (here are parts one and two) tackle the state of the Filipino novel (sigh, yes, Butch, Salamanca is rather slim), and along the way happily endorses popular literature, which includes spec fic.

"Even before we dream of selling our books in New York or London, we Filipino authors in English have to sell more books in this country, and I’m coming around to thinking that the fault, dear Brutus, is no longer in our readership but in ourselves. True, books of almost any kind are expensive here. Also true, we may have focused on just producing what we think of as great art because there’s little money to be made, which isn’t so bad. But it’s also a fact that many Filipinos are buying books—and let’s face it, these book buyers are primarily middle-class—except that they’re not buying us. In other words, the market is there but we’ve given up on fighting for our share of it.

By this I mean that we’re not writing about the things that might prove interesting to our potential readers; we wouldn’t mind being popular, but we shun the popular. The crimes that pepper our tabloids hardly ever make it to our fiction. Clearly, we need to write more popular or genre fiction—novels that employ not only the fantastic, but also more crime, more sex, and more humor. They may not necessarily be great novels, but good ones—novels that can attract and develop a new class of readers, be serialized, be turned into movies, be talked about over Monday-morning coffee. We also need more professional translators who can turn the best of our novels in Filipino into internationally marketable manuscripts.I should admit, as soon as I say this, that I’ve done very little myself to fill my own prescription.

Younger writers like Felisa Batacan and Dean Alfar and his group of “speculative fiction” writers are doing much more by raising the profile of a kind of fiction that seems to resonate with younger readers and can acquire a substantial following."

Thanks, Butch!

(via Ian)

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