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America is Not the Heart

by Elaine Castillo

Almost a family saga, this moving story of Hero, a Philipino woman with a chequered past, is revealed bit by bit as the novel progresses. Set part in the Philippines of the 1980s and part in the San Francisco Bay area, we get an insight into history and the way in which many leave their country to seek refuge in another but never abandon their roots. We share Hero's new life, with plenty of colourful detail. It's a thought provoking read.

Extract

This was perhaps the second or third time Hero had ever heard an American voice in real life; the first time she'd ever heard an American voice coming out of the face of someone who looked not unlike her own father. Behind Hero, Paz came through the door, carrying Hero's suitcase, hefting its weight against her substantial hip until she could settle it on the ground next to the pile of worn out tsinelas. She was several inches shorter than Hero, not over five feet tall, but Hero felt immediately shadowed, rebuked somehow by that tense, proud stance. A woman Hero would later come to know as Paz's sister Gloria emerged from the living room, followed by two young men .... They spoke to Paz in Pangasinan; Hero didn't understand anything they said. Mangan kila, Paz was saying, pointing to plates of food covered with paper towels on the kitchen table ... Paz crossed the kitchen to the rice cooker on the counter and asked Gutom ka, Nimang? Gloria made pinakbet, Pol said it was your favourite.

Parallels

Pigs Foot by Carlos Acosta
Three Filipino Women by F. Sionil Jose
 

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