At the end of our first week Papa Felix said, ‘How I pity them, these Filipinos in America. So many sick without knowing why.’ He was standing at the hotel window looking down at the crowds in the street, as if they were his people. ‘Can you imagine, waiting and waiting, just for someone to bring you hope?”
I lied and said no.
-from the story Felix Starro in Monstress
A young woman abandoned to grow up in a leper colony in the Philippines. The conscience-burdened nephew of a charlatan “healer.” An older man whose very sense of self and nation are challenged by The Beatles’ slight of Imelda Marcos during their 1966 tour in Manila. As in the lovely excerpt above from Felix Starro, the stories in Lysley Tenorio's wonderful debut collection Monstress (Ecco Press, 2012) are all about hope, and longing, and identity.
Tenorio’s characters drew me in with their richness, warmth, humor, and originality. As an “emerging author,” Tenorio has already established himself as a notable literary talent: his work has been published in The Atlantic, Zoetrope, Ploughshares and others; he is the recipient of a Pushcart Prize, a Whiting Writer’s Award, and several prestigious fellowships and residences; and if you read Monstress, you will see why. I recommend it highly for fans of short, literary fiction.
This review was originally published in longer form over at LitStack. I received a complimentary copy of the book from the publishers. All opinions expressed are my own.