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BREAKTHROUGH - Elfren S. Cruz - The Philippine Star

Being an avid reader and longtime follower of Philippine book titles, I always await the finalists of the yearly National Book Awards of the Manila Critics Circle and the National Book Development Board.  They – books, authors, illustrators, translators – deserve all the attention and publicity they deserve and never get.  Congratulations!

What follows is the newly released list of finalists covering books published in 2019 and 2020 (a catch-up for the MCC), from which only one title will be selected as winner. Instead of the usual three finalists for a publishing year, seven at most were selected as finalists for the two-year period.

Because of space constraints, this list only includes the titles from the Literary Division.

Novel (English)

Category Judge: Charlson Ong

Remains by Daryll Delgado; Tiempo Muerte: A Novel by Caroline S. Hau; Broken Islands by Criselda Yabes; The Age of Umbrage by Jessica Zafra

Nobela (Filipino)

Category Judge: Charlson Ong

Omnibus at ang Misteryo ng Nawawalang Ulo ni Rhod V. Nuncio;  Topograpiya ng Lumbay: Imus Novel 6 ni RM Topacio-Aplaon

Short stories (English)

Category Judge: Charlson Ong

Voyager and Other Fictions: The Collected Stories of Jose Dalisay by Jose Dalisay Jr.; Collected Stories & Tales by Cristina Pantoja-Hidalgo; Demigods & Monsters: Stories by Caroline S. Hau; City Stories by Angelo R. Lacuesta; Stories of a Bitter Country by Ninotchka Rosca; Pics or It Didn’t Happen and Actual Stories by Anna Felicia C. Sanchez; A Natural History of Empire by Dominic Sy

Maikling kuwento (Filipino)

Category Judge: Charlson Ong

Maqueda: mga usipon mula lawod hanggang Baybayon ni Nap I. Arcilla III; Kulto ni Santiago ni Kristian S. Cordero; The Next Great Tagalog Novel at Iba Pang Kuwento ni Allan N. Derain;  Sa Paalam Nagwawakas ang Lahat ng Pagtatagpo ni Andrian Legaspi; Sad-sadan, Happy-hapihan: Mga Kuwento ng Pag-Ibig ni John Iremil Teodoro

Nonfiction prose (English)

Category Judge: Romulo Baquiran Jr.

Biyaheng Pinoy: A Mindanao Travelogue by Edilberto N. Alegre; To Love Another Day: The Memoirs of Cory Aquino by Rapa Lopa, Rhona Lopa Macasaet, & Paolo R. Reyes; Living In Times of Unrest: Bart Pasion and the Philippine Revolution by Eduardo C. Tadem

Nonfiction prose (Filipino)

Category Judge: Romulo Baquiran Jr.

Balager by Emmanuel Barrameda

Essay (English)

Category Judge: Jose Wendell Capili

Some Days You Can’t Save Them All by Ronnie E. Baticulon; Break It to Me Gently: Essays on Filipino Film by Richard Bolisay; A Richness of Embarrassments and Other Easy Essays by Jose Dalisay Jr.; Why Words Matter: Why We Read and Why We Write by Jose Dalisay Jr.; The Philippines Is Not a Small Country by Gideon Lasco; A Pig Was Once Killed in Our Garage by Martin Villanueva

Essay (Filipino) Category Judge: Jose Wendell Capili

*No finalist


Category Judge: Merlie Alunan

Busilak: New LGBTQ Poetry from the Philippines by J. Neil Garcia; Kommunity: City of the Future by Paolo Herras, Mark Navarro; Mindanao Harvest 4 by Jaime An Lim, Christine F. Godinez-Ortega, Ricardo M. De Ungria


Category Judge: Christian Vallez

Virgin (muli) Po Ako: (mga dulang may isang yugto) ni Reuel Molina Aguila; Nokturnal at Iba Pang Dulang Pampelikula ni Lito Casaje; Salvador/Javier at Iba Pang Dula ni Lito Casaje; Two Women as Specters of History: Lakambini and Indigo Child by Rody Vera

Literary criticism/Literary history (English)

Category Judge: Ferdinand Lopez

Pelikulang Komiks: Towards a Theory of Filipino Film

Adaptation by Joyce L. Arriola; Sensing Manila by Gary C. Devilles; Children of the Postcolony: Filipino Intellectuals and Decolonization 1946-1972 by Charlie Samuya Veric

Literary criticism/Literary history (Filipino)

Category Judge: Ferdinand Lopez

Faustino Aguilar: Kapangyarihan, Kamalayan, Kasaysayan ni Epifanio San Juan Jr.

Poetry (English)

Category Judge: Marra Lanot

When Bridges Are Down, Mountains Too Far: New Poems by Gemino H. Abad; Crocodiles in Belfast & Other Poems by Jim Pascual Agustin; Marka Demonyo Or Poems on Love, Faith and Duct Tape by Lourd de Veyra;  Marawi and Other Poems by Simeon Dumdum Jr.; Jolography Retconned: Poems by Paolo Manalo; Di Achichuk: Poems and Images from Batanes by Dorian S. Merina;  We Shall Write Love Poems Again by Dinah Roma

Poetry (Filipino)

Category Judge: Marra Lanot

Isang Kahig Isang Tula: Mga Tanaga ni Albert Alejo S.J.; Lungsod-Lungsuran ni Louise O. Lopez; Ilang Sandali…Makalipas ang Huling Araw ng Mundo: Mga Tula ni Reagan R. Maiquez; Kung ang Siyudad Ay Pag-ibig by Carlos M. Piocos III; Siwang sa Pinto ng Tabernakulo: Mga Tula ni Louie Jon A. Sanchez; Ruta: Mga Bago at Piling Tula ni Benilda S. Santos; Lahat ng Nag-aangas ay Inaagnas ni Paolo Tiausas


Category Judge: Marne Kilates

Jose Rizal: Liberalismo at ang Balintuna ng Kolonyalidad by Lisandro Claudio, Mikael de Lara Co; In the Womb of Earth and Other Stories by Alice Tan Gonzales, Alice Tan Gonzales; The World is Still Beautiful by Lazaro Francisco, Mona Highley;  Canal de la Reina by Liwayway Arceo, Soledad S. Reyes; The Last Timawa: A Novel by Servando de los Angeles, Soledad S. Reyes; R.U.R.: Robot Unibersal ni Rossum by Karel Capek, Rogelio Sicat;  Sommarblommor: Poems Written in Europe by John Iremil Teodoro, Alice Sun-Cua

*      *      *

Young Writers’ Hangout on June 25 with literary editor Alma Anonas Carpio, 2-3 pm. Write Things’ six-day summer workshop “Writefest” will have a second run on June 27, 29, July 1, 4, 6 & 8 (MWF), 3-4:30 pm. This is now our 9th Writefest, and we are always so happy to have repeater students joining us again.

Contact [email protected]. 0945.2273216

Email: [email protected]


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