Bienvenido N. Santos (1911-1996)

A selective list of online literary criticism on the Filipino-American novelist and short-story writer Bienvenido Santos, favoring signed scholarly articles and books and peer-reviewed sources


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introduction, biography, & literary criticism

Best known as a novelist and short-story writer, Bienvenido Santos was also a poet, memoirist, and autobiographer. He was born in Manila, studied in the U.S. at Columbia Univ., Harvard, and the Univ. of Illinois, and has taught at universites in the U.S. and the Philippines. His fiction falls into two groups: one focuses on life in the Philippines, and the other on the experience of the Filipino immigrant to the U.S. His novel The Praying Man (1982), which describes corruption in the Philippines, was controversial in the country of his birth and banned by then-president Marcos. His short story "Immigration Blues," in his collection Scent of Apples, won the award for fiction from New Letters in 1977. Since the Philippines was a colony of the U.S. from 1899 to 1946, there is a continuum between literary works in English written in the Philippines and works by Filipino-Americans, as Santos' career well illustrates. Fililpino literature often takes as a backdrop events from Philippine history that are also part of the U.S. historical past, including the Philippine American War, World War II, the Japanese occupation of the Philippines; in addition, many contemporary Filipino-American writers were born in the Philippines.


Augenbraum, Harold. A review of Contemporary Fiction by Filipinos in America, ed. by Cecilia Manguerra Brainard. The reviewer begins with an account of the publication of Filipino fiction in the US. Manoa 13, 1 (2001) pp 201-03 [substantial excerpt, muse].

Bascara, Victor. "Up from benevolent assimilation: at home with the Manongs of Bienvenido Santos." MELUS Spring 2004 [subscription service].

Bernad, Miguel A. "The Stories of Bienvenido Santos." Bernad discusses the early stories of You Lovely People, which he praises as "sobering as fact, engrossing as fiction." Philippine Studies 4, 4 (1956) [click "PDF" to see article].

Bresnahan, Roger J. A review of Journey of 100 Years: Reflections on the Centennial of Philippine Independence (1999), eds. Cecilia Manguerra Brainard; Edmundo F. Litton. Amerasia Journal.

Cruz, Denise. "'Pointing to the Heart': Transpacific Filipinas and the Question of Cold-War Philippine-U.S. Relations." Cruz begins with a question posed to the narrator of "Scent of Apples": "Are our Filipino women the same like they were twenty years ago?," looking at the topic of the transpacific Filipina in that story and other works, including "Brown Coterie" and "So Many Things. "American Quarterly 63, 1 (March 2011).

Reyes, Soledad S. "Death in Life in Santos's Villa Magdalena." On Santos's treatment of character, theme ("the education of the hero"), and his critique of Philippine society in Villa Magdalena. From Reading Bienvenido N. Santos (1994), ed. Isagani R. Cruz and David Jonathan Bayot. [Subscription service. Additional peer-reviewed articles are available through this page: On Villa Magdalena, The Man Who (Thought He) Looked Like Robert Taylor, The Praying Man, treatment of marriage in Philippine-American fiction.]

Rico, Victoria. "Themes in the Poetry of Bienvenido Santos." Philippine Studies 42, 4 (1994) [click on "PDF"].

San Juan, E. "Leading Filipino Writers in the United States: Fin-de-Siecle Notes on Carlos Bulosan, Jose Garcia Villa, Jessica Hagedorn, and Bienvenido Santos." An extended commentary by the well-known Filipino-American cultural theorist E. San Juan, at independent.academia.edu.

Vidal, Lourdes H. "Echoes and Reflections in Villa Magdalena." Philippine Studies 35, 3 (1987) pp 377-82 [click on "PDF"].


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