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Does It Matter What the Dead Think?: Short Stories

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'Does It Matter What the Dead Think' is an accomplished collection of short stories about growing-up, migration, family, poverty and religion. Mostly set in the Philippines and Australia, these stories deal with aspects of life which are often difficult, told in an open and insightful manner.

'Father' opens with the narrator Balong, a young child, being beaten by his father for being ungrateful towards his mother. After treating his son's wounds that evening, the father leaves on a military expedition from which he does not return. The story touchingly addresses Balong's confusion over why he is beaten and what he should be feeling for his dead father: "In a minute," I said. I supposed I had to join them now. Did God punish him because he was too hard on me? I should not be thinking that way; he was my father. He made me. God wanted me to love him. But how? I did not know if I would feel all right standing there next to him, gazing at his dead body with our family. Would I forgive him for hurting me?" This is an engaging piece that, along with 'G'day Welcome to Australia' and 'Chrislam', displays the author's ability.

The narratives of each story are well constructed and the strong central characters hold the reader's attention so that we are fully engaged with the wider issues being discussed. Through detailed description of atmosphere and place, we are afforded an enlightening and enjoyable read.

What the readers say:

'What I like most about the stories of Erwin Cabucos are his characters who, even when they are in Australia, are Filipino through and through. They are touching in their simplicity and tenacity to improve their lot. They treasure the notion of the Family.

'Cabucos' stories are well grounded in contemporary history, so that after reading his work, one has a better understanding of the Filipino-Australian experience, and of Filipino experience in Muslim Mindanao.' -Cecilia Brainard, author of When the Rainbow Goddess Wept, University of Michigan Press, USA.

The stories appeared in the magazines and anthologies in Australia, the Philippines and America, including: 'Salu-Salo: an Anthology of Philippine-Australian Writings', 'A La Carte: Food and Fiction', and 'Growing-Up Filipinos.'

Does It Matter What the Dead Think: Short Stories is 5x8 inches in dimension, 188 pages thick. Available on Amazon.com with an ISBN 13-978-1536928020 and ISBN 153692802x.

Author Erwin Cabucos teaches Secondary English in Brisbane, Australia. Born and raised in the Muslim region of Southern Philippines, he came to Australia on a scholarship. He graduated Psychology from Notre Dame University, Philippines and English Education from the University of New England, Australia. His email address is erwincabucos@gmail.com

188 pages, Paperback

Published August 16, 2016

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14 reviews
January 14, 2022
4.5 🌟Rating for me.
I really enjoyed the book, as a half Filipino Australian, it really brought me a sense of understanding on some of the things my mum has endured, also I could really relate so some of these stories as well, and also it brought me back to my childhood. Especially with the dried fish story I could not help but laugh. Because I could physically smell it through this book, and if you know the smell, it’s genuinely imprinted in your brain for life.

However I did cry a lot and was shocked with a lot of the stories. I did visit my family back in the Philippines in Ilo Ilo city, and it’s genuinely rough living conditions and the culture shock is real. The collections of short stories really did bring that to the table. The culture shock is there in the books. I personally also have experienced the whole racism that Filipinos do get here in Australia and it breaks my heart because it is tough. I also understand when our families want a better life and struggle to even get a visa to study here or even just visit, or even just get a job because their university degrees don’t even count here in Australia. Just all these little things I really could relate too.

All these stories you see the struggle and you feel it, though the one thing all Filipinos have in common is hope and faith. That is one thing that keeps them strong and they just keep pushing. If there is anything you can take away from these stories is that hope, faith, strength, love and kindness is what the Filipino way of life is.
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