A Reading List for Filipino American History Month 2021

For Filipino American History Month, observed annually during October, we asked our members—independent presses, literary journals, and others—to share with us some of the literature they recommend reading in celebration. (Learn more about Filipino American History Month here.)




The Flayed City by Hari Alluri

Kaya Press | 2017

According to Juan Felipe Herrera, the poems in this collection contain “a new, quiet brush of multi-currents, of multi-worlds to paint this holographic life-scape.”




All Heathens by Marianne Chan

Sarabande Books | 2020

In this debut poetry collection, Chan “navigates her Filipino heritage by grappling with notions of diaspora, circumnavigation, and discovery.”




Phantompains by Therese Estacion

Book*hug Press | 2021

This poetry collection, which takes inspiration from Filipino horror and folktales, “is a visceral, imaginative collection exploring disability, grief and life by interweaving stark memories with dreamlike surrealism.”




Matadora by Sarah Gambito

Alice James Books | 2004

According to Kimiko Hahn, “The poems in Sarah Gambito’s first book, Matadora, are sheer juxtapositions of anything—starfish, Tagalog, frisson—and the friction very often adds a political dimension to the poetic.”




Documents by Jan-Henry Gray

BOA Editions | 2019

Winner of the A. Poulin, Jr. Poetry Prize, this poetry collection is “rooted in the experience of living in America as a queer undocumented Filipino.”




Court of the Dragon by Paolo Javier

Nightboat Books | 2015

Javier’s poetry collection “is both intimate and elusive, a simultaneity brought to the fore by the author’s interest in the occult and intuitive processes, in oblique and plain spoken discourses.”




Pop Vérité by R. Zamora Linmark

Hanging Loose Press | 2017

According to David Kirby, “James Schuyler and Frank O’Hara flit in and out of these poems, but then so do Tony Bennett, Roberto Bolaño, Donna Summer, Samuel Beckett, Amy Winehouse, and, well, everybody.”




Lucky Fish by Aimee Nezhukumatathil

Tupelo Press | 2011

Nezhukumatathil’s fourth poetry collection is, according to Publishers Weekly, “fascinated with the small mechanisms of being, whether natural, personal, or imagined.”




Returning a Borrowed Tongue: An Anthology of Filipino & Filipino American Poetry

Coffee House Press | 1996

Edited by Nick Carbó, this anthology features poets who “return the borrowed tongue with lyrical poems about migration, immigration, exile, nostalgia, desire, poverty, exploitation, racism, American culture, love, and invisibility.”




Letters to a Young Brown Girl by Barbara Jane Reyes

BOA Editions | 2020

Reyes’s latest poetry collection “answers the questions of Filipino American girls and young women of color with bold affirmations of hard-won empathy, fierce intelligence, and a fine-tuned B.S. detector.”




What Happens Is Neither by Angela Narciso Torres

Four Way Books | 2021

According to Tim Seibles, in this poetry collection Torres “has jimmied the lock to a house of intricate family memory and sumptuous wisdom.”




Proof of Stake: An Elegy by Charles Valle

Fonograf Editions | 2021

According to Joyelle McSweeney, in this debut poetry collection Valle “​​carries his lost loved one close against his chest as he soars through centuries, continents, climates, colonialisms and profit motives.”






Angel de la Luna and the 5th Glorious Mystery by M. Evelina Galang

Coffee House Press | 2013

In this novel for young adults, a teenage girl “leaves Manila for snowy Chicago, taking a tradition of protest—and some old family hurts—with her.”




But for the Lovers by Wilfrido D. Nolledo

Dalkey Archive Press | 1994

Originally published in 1970, this novel “depicts the survival of a cross-section of Filipinos during the Japanese Occupation and the American Liberation” in “a rich and complex exploration of language, history, and mythology.”




Never Have I Ever: Stories by Isabel Yap

Small Beer Press | 2021

According to Karla Strand, these thirteen stories that draw from “science fiction, Filipino folklore, fantasy and horror… are monstrous, scary, joyful, unexpected, inventive, eerie and weird.”






The Body Papers by Grace Talusan

Restless Books | 2019

Winner of the Restless Books Prize for New Immigrant Writing, Talusan’s memoir “powerfully explores the fraught contours of her own life as a Filipino immigrant and survivor of cancer and childhood abuse.”




We Are No Longer Babaylan by Elsa Valmidiano

New Rivers Press | 2020

This debut collection of essays “explores the impact of colonialist patriarchal societies on the lives and beliefs of those from a spiritual, matriarchal society.”




The Anchored Angel: Selected Writings by José Garcia Villa

Kaya Press | 1999

This selection of Villa’s writings “both recovers and rediscovers the work of this fierce iconoclast for a new generation” and includes essays from several contemporary Filipino and Filipino American writers.



Literary Magazines


“A Speech of One’s Own” by Gina Apostol

Evergreen Review | 2021

This essay was written as the foreword to Ulirat: Best Contemporary Stories in Translation from the Philippines (Gaudy Boy Translates, 2021). It begins, “There’s no joy like your own tongue—the tongue of your mother, your tongue-ina, as Filipino poet, novelist, and dramatist Eric Gamalinda has ingeniously punned.”



A Reading List for Filipino American Heritage Month

The Common | 2021

This reading list from The Common includes poetry by Bino A. Realuyo and R. Zamora Linmark, an interview of Oliver de la Paz, an essay by Danielle Batalion Ola, and more.



“Three Filipinas” by Harrison Geosits

Cincinnati Review | 2019

Of this flash prose piece, Maggie Su writes, “Geosits’s prose spans decades and moves the reader from ‘bug screens’ in the Philippines to ‘Filet-o-Fish sandwiches’ in America.”



“A Shared Stillness” by Monica Macansantos

Colorado Review | 2021

This essay begins, “I was a child when I learned from my father that his parents were once the tango champions of Zamboanga.”




“Milkfish” by Danni Quintos

Cincinnati Review | 2020

According to Lisa Low, this poem “unfolds into a dreamy sequence of images, guided by a kid logic that acknowledges both the fantasies and the dangers of the sea.”



“Ode to My Hairy Legs” by Kimberly Ramos

Miniskirt Magazine | Issue 6

This poem begins, “Here, in the light from the kitchen window / I can see the short, white-blonde strands….”



(Re)writing the Philippines

Words Without Borders | 2019

Words Without Borders’s first issue of writing from the Philippines is guest edited by Kristian Sendon Cordero and Kristine Ong Muslim and features work that “reclaims both language and literature to rewrite the conventional monolithic narrative imposed by colonial and nationalistic discourses.”