Bino Realuyo   The Umbrella Country  
Bino Realuyo    
Pantoum: The Comfort Woman: a poem

Bino Realuyo interview

The Umbrella Country: an excerpt

  Poet Bino A. Realuyo ventures into prose with The Umbrella Country, choosing to write his first novel from the perspective of Gringo, a child growing up in the Philippines during the turbulent martial law years of the 1970s. Gringo contends with his frustrated father, who is determined to flee to the U.S., his non-communicative mother, and his brother, who dresses regularly in women's clothing. The secret of his parents' union provides insight into the family's history of violence, and coincides with the country's own frenetic state. As much about America as Philippines, The Umbrella Country offers readers a view of the U.S. from the outside looking in, a vantage point of Filipinos prior to immigration.

Raised in a community not unlike the one depicted in The Umbrella Country, Realuyo escaped the poverty of Manila as an adolescent. However, he believes he has yet to immigrate to the U.S. as a writer, given his consistent focus on the Philippines and his use of English as a translated version of Tagalog, which we find in his work. With credits including a 1999 Pushcart Prize nomination, 1998 National Poetry Finalist status, and a Lucille Medwick Memorial Award from the Poetry Society of America, Realuyo, not surprisingly, considers himself first and foremost a poet. Though he regards poetry and prose as stylistic opposites, as illustrated in excerpts from The Umbrella Country and his poem "Pantoum: The Comfort Woman," he intends to recover more of a poetic sense with current novels-in-progress. Realuyo discusses his writing further in an interview with Bold Type.

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