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ALBERT B. CASUGA, a Philippine-born writer, lives in Mississauga, Ontario, Canada, where he continues to write poetry, fiction, and criticism after his retirement from teaching and serving as an elected member of his region's school board. He was nominated to the Mississauga Arts Council Literary Awards in 2007. A graduate of the Royal and Pontifical University of St. Thomas (now University of Santo Tomas, Manila. Literature and English, magna cum laude), he taught English and Literature (Criticism, Theory, and Creative Writing) at the Philippines' De La Salle University and San Beda College. He has authored books of poetry, short stories, literary theory and criticism. He has won awards for his works in Canada, the U.S.A., and the Philippines. His latest work, A Theory of Echoes and Other Poems was published February 2009 by the University of Santo Tomas Publishing House. His fiction and poetry were published by online literary journals Asia Writes and Coastal Poems recently. He was a Fellow at the 1972 Silliman University Writers Workshop, Philippines. As a journalist, he worked with the United Press International and wrote an art column for the defunct Philippines Herald.

Sunday, September 19, 2010


In the Weekend Post section of the National Post, book critic Mark Medley listed Miguel Syjuco's Ilustrado as a contender for literary honours in Canada:

"This year's literary-awards season begins in earnest on Monday (September 20), when the longlist for the Sociatabank Giller Prize, as it is now known, is revealed. This will be followed closely by the announcement of the finalists for the Rogers Writers' Trust Fiction Prize and the shortlist for the Govenror General's Literary Award. These Big Three fiction prizes will all be awarded in November. . . .

"These days, at book launches and publishing parties, when talk turns (as it inevitably does) to which novels should be nominated for the major prizes, these are the books I mention (in order of their illustrations at right):"

(Please click on the images to zoom in on the text)

Syjuco was born in Manila, the Philippines, grew up in Vancouver, and now lives in Montreal where he works for the Montreal Gazette.

(This blog's earlier post on his impressive debut novel traces the interest in Syjuco's work where his Ilustrado is considered a phenomenon in the literary world,  having won the 2008 Man Asian Literary Award and the Philippines Palanca Award  (2009) while it was still in an unpublished manuscript form.)

Medley quotes Syjuco as observing, (the writer himself holding two literary passports, reflecting his joint citizenship), "I think that really just speaks to the plurality and the inclusiveness of Canadian culture. The cultural life does reflect the art, and vice versa."

Come Monday, a longlist or shortlist for Syjuco, is achievement enough. Garnering any of the Big Three  prizes would indeed by a literary phenomenon. And he is a strong contender.

Bon chance, Miguelito! We are proud of you. See you in November.

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