This year’s finalists range from an oncologist’s recounting of his medical misadventures to an intimately staged queer poetry.
On November 6, the National Book Development Board announced the finalists for the National Book Awards, spanning 34 categories across seven languages, namely English, Filipino, Binisaya, Bikol, Hiligaynon, Tausug, and Waray. The list of finalists is a diverse and vibrant showcase, highlighting both literary and non-literary texts, published by academic, commercial, and small presses.
Established in 1982 by Manila Critics’ Circle, the National Book Awards honors “the most prestigious book titles written, designed, and published in the Philippines.” From 2008 onwards, the administration of the awards transferred to the National Book Development Board. Past awardees include Caroline Hau, Ambeth Ocampo, Lamberto Antonio and Bob Ong, among others.
This year’s roster of finalists ranges from an oncologist’s recounting of his medical misadventures to an intimately staged queer poetry, a translation of the Carlos Bulosan classic America is in the Heart and a deep dive into the cuisine of Iloilo. Discover some of the titles vying for the prestigious award below.
Armor: Stories by John Bengan (Ateneo de Manila University Press)
Translator, teacher, and writer John Bengan’s debut collection of short fiction, Armor, traverses the criminal, ecological, and social ruptures within the turbulent Mindanao context. Narratives of vigilante killings, personality cults, and insurgencies coincide with touching moments of care and community, all of which are brought to focus through Bengan’s achingly affirming and clear-eyed prose.
Even Ducks Get Liver Cancer and other Medical Misadventures by Wilfredo Liangco (Milflores Publishing)
Wilfredo Liangco’s essay collection is a candid and spirited account of his experiences as a medical intern and oncologist at the Philippine General Hospital. Liangco’s essays survey weighty topics—death, illness, grief, and poverty—with a light and buoyant touch. Humor and comedy, this book attests, can coexist with, and make livable the medical profession’s stressful and sometimes heartbreaking realities.
All My Distances Point to Home by King Llanza (University of Santo Tomas Publishing House)
In this volume of poetry, King Llanza, an environmental science degree graduate, explores themes of home, distance, queerness, and intimacy. These poems are indebted to the natural world, drawing inspiration from our intricate ties to land and water as well as long-distance relationships to envision a “queer ecopoetry.”
Colonialism & Modernity: Re-Mapping Philippine Histories edited by Oscar Campomanes, Nobutaka Suzuki, and Yoshiko Nagano (Ateneo de Naga University Press)
Bringing together the transdisciplinary work of Filipino, Filipino-American, and Japanese scholars, the essays in this collection unearth histories of the past as a way to make sense of the ongoing and pressing histories of the now. The compendium examines a wide band of concepts, such as political economy, critical historiography, nationalist politics, and colonial education, with a roving and inquisitive attitude.
Flavors of Iloilo by Rafael J. Jardeleza Jr. (Iloilo City Government)
This cookbook by chef Rafael J. Jardeleza Jr. is a wide-ranging and informative deep dive into Iloilo cuisine. From the familiar delights of Pancit Molo and kansi to more niche fare such as patang nilaga and Agta Nga Manok sa Sibut kag Miswa, the cookbook is a remarkable showcase of Ilonggo gastronomy as well as a celebration of Ilonggo heritage.