Angélica's Reviews > Smaller and Smaller Circles

Smaller and Smaller Circles by F.H. Batacan
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's review
Feb 19, 2009

liked it
bookshelves: contemporary, realism, reviewed
Recommended to Angélica by: My CL 154 teacher
Recommended for: suspense, thriller, mystery, serial killer fiction fans, filipinos, anyone
Read in November, 2008 — I own a copy

** spoiler alert ** This book marks a milestone in Philippine Literature as the "first Filipino crime novel" and won the Palanca Award (it's like the Pulitzer Prize for Literature in the Philippines) in 1999. It was good, and the length of the novel is just enough to keep the reader hooked. The main characters, a Jesuit priest/forensic anthropologist/tall, dark and totally hot middle-aged guy with rock star hair, a Jesuit priest/psychologist/shorter hot guy/sidekick and a journalist/polyglot, add spice to the novel.

I like the criticism of the handling of crime and the depiction of lower-class life in the Philippines. However, even after having said these things, I still think that the novel doesn't seem "Filipino" enough for me. I believe that the characters move the plot forward, and it is partly with them that I have a problem. Their sensibility does not seem Filipino to me, but heavily influenced by the European universities that they went to. And the untranslated multilingual thoughts of the journalist/polyglot do not help either. The writer may have (or may have not) assumed that the reader also knows what those lines mean, giving it an exclusive, almost elitist, vibe. But this is just my opinion.

When I wrote this review, I still had this really stupid anti-foreign bias and you can clearly see it. Now, I don't have a problem with wherever the characters received their education. It still was a chore to try to connect with the protagonists, though. And although I now understand most of the journalist character's foreign language thoughts, I'm still irked with them being untranslated. I get it, she knows how to think in so many different languages.
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