The God Stealer, F. Sionil José's most widely anthologized fiction, is a moving story of a friendship. An American and a Filipino go to the Cordilleras to look at the rice terraces which were built by the Filipino's ancestors. There, they find the meaning of their friendship, how it defines the relationship between the colonizer and the colonized.
As the Philippines' most widely translated author, F. Sionil José's reputation rests largely on his epic work—the Rosales novels, which span a hundred years of Philippine history and encompass four generations. His short stories, however, are just as memorable for their unerring depiction of the Filipino condition. This collection includes some of the earliest stories he wrote from the late forties to the early fifties. In these stories, he already maps out the boundaries of his literary geography and plumbs the depths of the Filipino character, at the same time hewing to the continuing theme of almost all of his work: the Filipino's often futile search for social justice and a moral order.
F. Sionil José's fiction is now translated into 27 languages including Tagalog. Random House has just completed putting out the Rosales saga. Fayard of France has already released four of his five Rosales novels.
Francisco Sionil José was born in 1924 in Pangasinan province and attended the public school in his hometown. He attended the University of Santo Tomas after World War II and in 1949, started his career in writing. Since then, his fiction has been published internationally and translated into several languages including his native Ilokano. He has been involved with the international cultural organizations, notably International P.E.N., the world association of poets, playwrights, essayists and novelists whose Philippine Center he founded in 1958.
F. Sionil José, the Philippines' most widely translated author, is known best for his epic work, the Rosales saga - five novels encompassing a hundred years of Philippine history - a vivid documentary of Filipino life.
In 1980, Sionil José received the Ramon Magsaysay Award for Journalism, Literature and Creative Communication Arts.
In 2001, Sionil José was named National Artist for Literature.
In 2004, Sionil José received the Pablo Neruda Centennial Award.
The God Stealer is a collection of F. Sionil Jose’s short stories. For the most part I was intrigued by Jose’s stories. They are not flattering portrayals of Americans or Western culture as a whole and yet they are so well-written as to be impossible to dismiss.
I found something of value and/or appreciated all the stories with the exception of the last two in the grouping, “The Refugee” and “Something is wrong with My Hearing”, both of which tended towards nihilism. Here is a brief synopsis of most of the stories:
In a theme which predominates in Jose’s stories, “The Heirs” examines relations between colonizer and the colonized across the presumably unbridgeable chasm of misunderstanding, abuse and exploitation. Here he traces the changing fortunes of the Asperri family from the early days of its prosperous founder, Don Jacinto, in the 19th century to its dramatic and tragic decline through a series of events and choices, some personal, some socio-cultural and others economic and political.
“The Riddle” – as the name suggests – is the mystery surrounding a woman, her choice and subsequent life which remain as baffling to the narrator protagonist at the end as the beginning.
In “Respectability” our eyes are opened in a totally unanticipated way!
“Two Letters” are written by illiterate authors through the aide of a transcriber: one to a young man by his mother with his sister doing the actually recording and the other by the young man to the woman he loves with the aide of another young woman. As the observers of these scenes we see that many words do not make much truth.
“The Mountain” tells the story of one poor family enduring the minimalist existence within its shadow, never knowing enough to break free from the hostile environment or to live with dignity.
“A Man’s Reward is in Heaven” is the perfect title for this gem, but it won’t make sense until the last paragraph of the story—not even if you cheat and read that first!
Pepe, “The Exile”, encounters a Spaniard in a small Basque hotel who not only gets him to appreciate his native land of the Philippines all over again but also awakens him to the frightening possibility that other important things he has been living and believing aren’t true.
“The Forest” is a collection of mini-vignettes set in a hospital unit as a procession of the victims of war and disease fight for life as nature seeks to reclaim its own.
In “Two Interviews”, which really should be four interviews because this is a short story almost has a second chapter and there are two interviews in each—the protagonist ponders the question in which of two worlds can true freedom be found?
Won this in a contest from my friend, Enbrethiliel over at her contest on Shredded Cheddar. Thanks Girl! Gonna be starting this soon! This will be my first real book of genuine Filippine literature! Thank you very much!