April 27, 2022
Join us in a discussion of Nick Joaquin’s celebrated collection of short stories, The Woman Who Had Two Navels and Tales of the Tropical Gothic. This selection was inspired by our current exhibition, Maia Cruz Palileo: Long Kwento. Palileo has shared that “a few particular stories were major influences on me – The Woman Who Had Two Navels, May Day Eve, Summer Solstice, The Legend of the Dying Wanton, and Doña Jerónima.”
Discussion leader: Scott Black
A New York Times Book Review Editor’s Choice
Nick Joaquin is widely considered one of the greatest Filipino writers, but he has remained little-known outside his home country despite writing in English. Set amid the ruins of Manila devastated by World War II, his stories are steeped in the post-colonial anguish and hopes of his era and resonate with the ironic perspectives on colonial history of Gabriel García Márquez and Mario Vargas Llosa. His work meditates on the questions and challenges of the Filipino individual’s new freedom after a long history of colonialism, exploring folklore, centuries-old Catholic rites, the Spanish colonial past, magical realism, and baroque splendor and excess. This collection features his best-known story, “The Woman Who Had Two Navels,” centered on Philippine emigrants living in Hong Kong and later expanded into a novel, the much-anthologized stories “May Day Eve” and “The Summer Solstice” and a canonic play, A Portrait of the Artist as Filipino. As Penguin Classics previously launched his countryman Jose Rizal to a wide audience, now Joaquin will find new readers with the first American collection of his work.
About Scott Black
Scott Black is a professor and chair of the English Department at the University of Utah. He teaches and studies the history of prose fiction from a global perspective and from classical epics through contemporary novels.