Winner 40th National Book Award Best Book Short Fiction English
Finalist Gintong Aklat Award
PALH, 2021, 276 pages
ISBN 978–195371619 (sc) — ORDER BOOKSHOP
ISBN — 978–1953716255 (hc) — ORDER AMAZON
EBOOK — Kindle
University of Santo Tomas Publishing House, 2021, softcover, 316 pages (July 2021) — available from Lazada and Shopee in the Philippines.
POWERFUL, POIGNANT, ENGROSSING
Selected Short Stories by Cecilia Manguerra Brainard collects 39 of the Filipina American author’s short fiction. The collection includes some of her best short fiction, including stories that deal with fictional Manila and Mexico, Intramuros and Acapulco, Ubec and Cebu.
Selected Short Stories includes a very long story (one would call it a novella), “Melisande in Paris”, which is about the French seamstress who appears in Cecilia’s third novel, The Newspaper Widow. Melisande is the friend of the protagonist in the literary mystery The Newspaper Widow. Melisande and Ines solve the crime of the dead priest in Ubec’s creek. But Melisande had a whole other story back in Paris before she went to Ubec. “Melisande in Paris” is that story.
Powerful, poignant and engrossing, the Selected Short Stories by Cecilia Manguerra Brainard is an important work by a major writer. Written in a poetic style rich in imagery, her observant eye’s subject is both transnational and local, societal and relational in the more personal scale of family, friendship, love. These stories have an oral quality in the best sense of the word, by a master of the form. ~ Brian Ascalon Roley, author of Ambuscade and American Son, and Professor of English, Miami University.
Cecilia Manguerra Brainard’s short stories cover not just the history of the Philippines – Spanish and American colonial rule, the bloody Marcos era, the high price of fighting for political and economic freedom – but also the deeply moving hesitations and complexities of the human heart: the loves and longings and losses that shape and haunt a life, the sensuality and desires that rip apart the fabric of social life, the intricacies of girlhood and female friendship, the confrontation of cultures, the loneliness and courage of Filipino-Americans and others who have left their homelands and the idea of home. Beautifully written, masterfully crafted, these stories are at once heart-breaking, entertaining, and profoundly humane — very difficult to put down, impossible to forget. ~ Reine Arcache Melvin, author of The Betrayed: A Novel
Cecilia Brainard’s well-crafted stories deal with fictional Manila and Mexico, Intramuros and Acapulco, Ubec and Cebu. She has the uncanny ability to enter the skin of her characters and give them their singular voices. Her Selected Stories only affirm what we have long known: that she has already vaulted into the front rank of the Philippines’ best writers of fiction. Brava!” ~ Danton Remoto, author of Riverrun, A Novel.
Jenny Ortuoste Reviews Selected Short Stories by Cecilia Manguerra Brainard in Manila Standard Lifestyle 7/30/22
“Well-written and hypnotic, these tales are a grand display of Brainard’s storytelling and word-weaving skills that only get better with time.”
George Deoso Reviews Selected Short Stories by Cecilia Manguerra Brainard in Positively Filipino
“There is much to rejoice about this feast of a book: the range in terms of form; the weaving of past and present between the pages; and that reassuring sense of being in the hands of a writer—an artist—whose mark transcends the boundaries of time, place, and historical conflicts.
Brainard’s Selected Short Stories make me upset. And I am only happy to be upset by her fiction. Literature is nothing if it doesn’t shake the core of our being, if it only gives us a kind of bliss.”