Thursday, December 15, 2011

To Read: Alternative Alamat

One of the interesting books I'm looking forward to reading over the next few months is Alternative Alamat.

As the editors describe it:
"Philippine mythology is full of images that ignite the imagination: gods of calamity and baldness, of cosmic time and lost things; the many-layered Skyworld, and weapons that fight their own battles; a ship that is pulled to paradise by a chain, and a giant crab that controls the tides… Yet too few of these tales are known and read today. “Alternative Alamat” gathers stories, by contemporary authors of Philippine fantasy, which make innovative use of elements of Philippine mythology. None of these stories are straight re-tellings of the old tales: they build on those stories, or question underlying assumptions; use ancient names as catalysts, or play within the spaces where the myths are silent. What you will find in common in these eleven stories is a love for the myths, epics, and legends which reflect us, contain us, call to us–and it is our hope that, in reading our stories, you may catch a glimpse of, and develop a hunger for, those venerable tales."

 “Alternative Alamat” also features a cover and interior illustrations by Mervin Malonzo, a short list of notable Philippine deities, tips for online and offline research, and in-depth interviews with two people who have devoted much of their careers to the study of Philippine folklore and anthropology, Professors Herminia Meñez Coben ("Explorations in Philippine Folklore" and "Verbal Arts in Philippine Indigenous Communities: Poetics, Society, and History") and Fernando N. Zialcita ("The Soul Book" and “Authentic but Not Exotic”).

This looks like it will be an exceptional addition to Southeast Asian speculative literature. A big congratulations to all of those who were involved in bringing this collection forward!

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