Friday, November 08, 2013

Filipino Fridays #5: An Audience of One (or Why Writing for Me is Writing for The Long Tail)

The questions this week:

What do readers want? What’s your favorite genre/reading material? Who is your favorite author (local or foreign)? What kinds of books would you like to see more of from local authors or publishers? What is your favorite book from a Filipino author?

My answers: 

I don't have a particular favorite genre...well maybe except for fiction but that's pretty broad. I also read poetry. I joined a book club to expand the genres that I read.

In terms of fiction, I like a pretty broad range from literary fiction like Khaled Hosseini's A Thousand Splendid Suns (only recently discovered) and Jim Crace's Quarantine and David Mitchell's Cloud Atlas to fast-paced thrillers like Gillian Flynn's Gone Girl and The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo series by Stieg Larsson. I don't have particular favorite authors but sure wins (meaning, if they release a new novel I'd probably check it out/ buy it) for me are Neil Gaiman, Anita Shreve, George R.R. Martin, Margaret Atwood and Ursula Le Guin. Among poetry books, my favorites are Jane Hirshfield and Robert Hass. On a side note, I also buy any Lawrence Durrell book that I see in a secondhand bookstore for sentimental reasons. Among classics, I was a collector of Thomas Hardy (I've read almost everything he's written except for A Pair of Blue Eyes which I just couldn't finish for some reason), Jane Austen, and E.M. Forster (hands down favorite is A Room With a View).

Do I have a favorite local author? I like Trese (story by Budjette Tan and artwork by Kajo Baldisimo). I also like Gregorio Brillantes (I have two of his collected short stories, The Apollo Centennial and The Distance to Andromeda and Other Stories). I also remember enjoying The Praying Man by Bienvenido Santos. I have to confess, though, that I don't really read a lot of Filipino authors for leisure. I've bought F.H. Batacan's Smaller and Smaller Circles (because of last year's Reader Con) but I haven't started the book. It's about a serial killer so I'm bracing for some heaviness.

What would I like to see more of from Filipino authors and publishers? Perhaps more fiction like Khaled Hosseini but set in the Philippines. I remember reading Jessica Zafra but just short stories. Maybe more of that but in novel form? My taste, though, is not leaning toward popular genres like chick lit and Korean-like pop fiction (ex. Diary ng Panget or She's Dating The Gangster). So, I'm not sure if writing for me would profit a writer (or publisher). I do feel a stigma, though, for the Filipiniana section. It's too serious/ weighty. I'd like it to be more diverse... and not necessarily separate from the rest of the books in a bookstore.

Writing for me doesn't look profitable. However, I do know that the long tail works at some point. If there are enough titles out there, an audience will be found. All I know is: what I want is a diverse bookshelf. I want many, many voices.

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