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This is the blog of Ian Rosales Casocot. Filipino writer. Sometime academic. Former backpacker. Twink bait. Hamster lover.

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Saturday, October 13, 2007

entry arrow8:23 AM | Nobel-ables ... ?

The poll is not exactly close yet, but these are the, uhm, front runners. My goal in this fruitless exercise of blogging boredom (ha!) was to come up with the best possible Filipino nominee for the world's most prestigious literary prize, if that elusive possibility will become a given, say, tomorrow. (Or perhaps next year, since Doris Lessing has already been given the Prize this year.) So I've taken out the names of the much-younger writers the Nobel committee will certainly never go for simply because they're too "young," and/or those whose works does not exactly enjoy wide translation to most European languages, especially Swedish (so, on both counts, no Krip Yuson, Marjorie Evasco, Jessica Hagedorn, Rick Barot, Eileen Tabios, Eric Gamalinda, Rolando Tolentino, Ed Maranan, Luisa Igloria, and Marne Kilates -- so sorry, Frankie!). I've also taken out the obviously adoring nomination by my best friend. But I did retain those whose names came up more than once or twice, kahit di posible.

So let's go over the "front runners." Jose Rizal, according to some, was the best possible choice, but sadly he's dead. And so is Nick Joaquin. (It's a sad thing to note that in the consideration of who can best represent our national literature in the world stage, the only writers we don't seem to hesitate to turn to are dead.) Which leaves us with Cirilo Bautista, Bienvenido Lumbera, and F. Sionil Jose. (Read or Die's Kristin Mandigma listed two others in her blog: Virgilio Almario and Edith Tiempo.) Sir Frankie is the most widely-translated and has a major American publisher to put his name out there, so he's probably the best bet. But, people, Arnel Salgado? Oh, come, on! (It pained me just to even put his picture up there, alongside some of my writing idols.)

Some things to note in our Nobel considerations: (a) the writer must still be alive, (b) the writer must have a considerable body of work -- which usually means he or she must be old, (c) the writer must have been translated to the major European languages -- and being translated to Swedish or Norwegian is a big plus, and (d) the writer must somehow represent the zeitgeist the Nobel committee sometimes considers.

Of course, the main problem why no Filipino has ever made it may be the fact that Philippine literature suffers from a conspicuous lack of "marketing" on the world stage, or even the local one. We just don't seem to matter to anyone out there. Kristin says it best when she wrote: "The problem, again, is that our literature just isn’t getting out there, at least compared to the Indians, the Chinese, the Japanese, the Americans, the Africans, the Europeans, etc. If Butch Dalisay wins or is at least short-listed for the Man Asia Book Prize, that should up the antenna a bit. It isn’t enough to write great literature. We should market it -- first and foremost to Filipino readers, and then the world. In your face na."


Nevertheless, get those nominations in -- if only to get a glimpse of ordinary readers' take on the state of our national literature. Comment away.

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