Saturday, April 27, 2024





(Farrar, Straus & Girouxm 2023)


Nathan Go’s FORGIVING IMELDA MARCOS surprised me, which by itself is an achievement (not in how it relates to me per se but in how surprising any reader of fiction is a feat). Nor did I anticipate the title to be “Click Bait,” but it’s effectively so, thus a great title (for why it’s Click Bait, you’ll have to read the book). But my takeaway is a foretelling: that debut author Nathan Go has the potential to be a great writer because he has things to say that are useful and revelatory for coming from a thoughtfulness that can seamlessly beget philosophy.

For instance, Go resonantly addresses the difference between—or natures of—forgiveness versus redemption. Hint: one might forgive Imelda Marcos but redemption can only occur if she knows she did something that requires forgiveness (what’s the likelihood when, as Go notes, the Marcoses don’t even concede their dictator-patriarch did something wrong?).


Go also presents a fine—and, to me, amusing (but I have a perverse sense of humor—observation on what Marx and  Marcos share in common, to wit


“willful blindness. This blindness was what caused each man to believ ein the goodness of his respective solution—the rule of the proletariat, for one, and the New Society, for the other. It was also why neither thought to erect any mechanism whatsoever no circuit breakers so to speak, to keep his solution in check. The result: an unattainable utopia.”

But this is clearly a first novel. I felt the urge more than once to drop the book early in its read as one of those I won’t finish. Such would have been unfortunate because its best parts are in the last half or third of the novel. I think the pace is too slow during the first half and the writing quality is ordinary with compelling passages insufficient—though the writing nonetheless suffices for presenting the book’s achievements: its ideas.

So I look forward to more from this author. I have faith his writing will mature/strengthen to catch up with the notable ideas he’s clearly quite capable of conceptualizing. I want more passages akin to this below.

Ultimately, it had a slow(-paced) start but if only for its ideas alone, Nathan Go’s FORGIVING IMELDA MARCOS is worth reading.  And I hail this book as the promising start of what can be a wonderful literary legacy.




Eileen R. Tabios has released over 70 collections of poetry, fiction, and diverse types of prose. In 2024 (Asia) & 2025 (World), Penguin Random House SEA will publish her second novel The Balikbayan Artist. Other recent releases an art monograph Drawing Six Directions; a poetry collection Because I Love You, I Become War; an autobiography,The Inventor; and a flash fiction collection collaboration with harry k stammer, Getting To One. Other recent books include a first novel DoveLion: A Fairy Tale for Our Times which was subsequently translated by Danton Remoto into Filipino as KalapatingLeon (UST Publishing House, 2024). Her work includes invention of the hay(na)ku, a 21st century diasporic poetic form; the MDR Poetry Generator that can create poems totaling theoretical infinity; the “Flooid” poetry form that’s rooted in a good deed; and the monobon poetry form based on the monostich. Translated into 13 languages, she has seen her writing and editing works receive recognition through awards, grants and residencies. More information is at


No comments:

Post a Comment