I began this book when I was nineteen: the year Ninoy Aquino was murdered on the tarmac by Imelda Marcos’s goons. In a weird loop, a circular pattern that mocks my own work’s ways of shaping time, this book, my first novel, is out two-times-nineteen years later—two times the length of my life when I began it. It marks the time I became a writer. To see it in print beyond its home (it was first published in the Philippines in 1997, winning the country’s National Book Award that year) is for me a kind of grace. For personal reasons having nothing to do with the novel, I never tried to sell Bibliolepsy when I ended up living in the United States. Its appearance now does not sum up my life (by no means), but it makes me glad. I’m glad to be experiencing the happiness I had when the book first came out.
I hope you can share in the gladness of this time. Buy the book, share it with others, be glad, I hope, in reading the book—which is about reading, about readers, and about books.
(Of course, the revolt that backgrounds my book only gives us pause—in that the Marcoses are returning, the son with a huge lead in the upcoming presidential elections—two-times-nineteen years later. As the Jan 6 Insurrection anniversary comes upon us here in the United States, the Philippine experience says: Beware when justice is not done to those who wreck democracy 😦 Bad things return.)
I talk with Viet Nguyen about Bibliolepsy at Politics and Prose on January 4, its pub date: link here. I talk with Sabina Murray at Books are Magic Jan 5, with Neferti Tadiar at Vromans Jan 6, with Zack Linmark at Literati on Jan 11, and with Malaka Gharib at City Lights Jan 18
You can read about the book (it’s about sex and revolution, about fucking over dictators as well as writers) from Publishers’ Weekly here, from Soho Press here. The New York Times reviewed it on its pub date— “Craving Books, Sex, and Revolution”! Link here!
You can preorder and buy it at any bookstore, but I hope you do not choose Amazon. Bookshop link is here.
Bibliolepsy was about my wish to preserve ardor—the ardor I had for books the minute I learned to read. It’s about recalling the sense of that very first time. I hope you can find it, Bibliolepsy, both the book and your own recall of that kind of love—in this pandemic, we need that memory of primal ardor (that’s for sure).
My best to you all in this new year—hope to meet up one day again, in person, to toast all books—