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5 Pinay Stellar Novels You Need to Read |

5 Pinay Stellar Novels You Need to Read Pinay, Novels, Literature, Literary, Books, Pinay Shine, Works, Features, #Pinaydotcom Pinay, Novels, Literature, Literary, Books, Pinay Shine, Works, Features, #Pinaydotcom
M.T. Vallarta

The Filipino novels Noli Me Tangere, Urbana at Feliza, America is in the Heart and Rolling the R’s  have been regarded as examples of the best Filipino/American literature. These works contain stories of political struggle, of kinship, of migration, and of Filipino/American community formation. However, they were all written by men. Although these stories moved and inspired me, I often wondered where all the Filipina writers were. Where are their stories? Their voices? Where are the novels written by Pinays?

They are here. And there are many. Let’s explore five of these outstanding Pinay novels, but let us not stop here. I encourage you to go out there and peruse more. Empower and inspire yourself with these stupendous literary works.

Angel de la Luna and the Fifth Glorious Mystery by M. Evelina Galang

In this young adult novel, Galang explores the transnational relationship between mother and daughter as well as the exploitation of Filipina women during the Japanese occupation of the Philippines. Galang explores trauma, migration, and political struggle, but also exemplifies the importance of strength, resilience, healing, and survival. It is a tale Filipina women from all generations can relate to and will love.

Dream Jungle by Jessica Hagedorn

With a plethora of characters and perspectives, Hagedorn paints a picture of a neocolonial Philippines set in the 1970s. We are drawn to the pain and beauty of young Rizalina, as well as the corruption and graft of the Spaniard, Zamora. A lot happens in Dream Jungle: a stone-age tribe of indigenous Filipinos is found, and a group of Americans decide to travel to the Philippines to film a movie about the Vietnam War. When these two occurrences intersect, what do they say about the colonial legacy of the Philippines? About the crisis of our country? Definitely a must read.

Pinay, Novels, Literature, Literary, Books, Pinay Shine, Works, Features, #Pinaydotcom

Fish-Hair Woman by Merlinda Bobis

Set in 1987, this novel follows the Philippine government fighting a war against communist insurgency. There is militarization, decay, and violence, but in the midst of the bloodshed is Estrella, the “fish-hair woman.” With her hair as long as twelve meters, she fishes corpses out of the river. With a hint of magical realism and an eclectic, poetic style, Bobis weaves a strange, beautiful tale of betrayal, war, and love guaranteed to keep you up at night.

Gun Dealers’ Daughter by Gina Apostol

Set in the Marcos era, main character Soledad Soliman transforms from nerdy rich girl to communist rebel when she becomes a university student in Manila. But can she really join the movement? Can someone as privileged as she be a part of the revolution? With oodles of rebellion and even a romance with a comrade, Apostol gives us one of the most compelling Filipina characters in fiction and shows how two sides, personal and political, can connect.

State of War by Ninotchka Rosca

Also set in the Marcos era, State of War follows three characters on the run from political repression. They decide to join a popular folk festival, but find that they still cannot escape from the war and political conflict surging through the nation. Rosca shows how Philippine society and culture have suffered through repression and makes us wonder if salvation and liberation is possible in such conflict. Powerful and controversial, this book is also considered a classic of Philippine literature.

5 Pinay Stellar Novels You Need to Read 2

Maria Vallarta is an incoming Ph.D student from Los Angeles, California. She was editor at {m}aganda Magazine. You can read more about her in her blog Sampaguita Girl.

Image credits: Woman reading via Wallpapersus, Vintage Type Writer via The Edible Editor Blog, Jessica Hagedorn quote via IZ QuotesAngel de La Luna and the Fifth Glorious Mystery via Coffee House Press, Dream Jungle via Arkipelago Books, Fish-Hair Woman via Ham and Squid Book Review, Gun Dealers’ Daughter via and State of War via

M.T. Vallarta

M.T. Vallarta is a Ph.D. student from Los Angeles, CA. She received her undergraduate education at the University of California, Berkeley, where she double majored in English and Asian American Studies. While at Cal, she was an editor of {m}aganda Magazine and was heavily involved in student of color groups and community organizing spaces. She identifies strongly as a scholar-activist, and hopes to produce scholarship that directly impacts and benefits the very communities she serves. When not blogging, writing, or studying, she enjoys reading, playing video games, drinking tea, and eating good food.


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