A luminous collection of heartbreaking, vivid, startling, and gloriously unique stories set amongst the Filipino-American communities of California and the Philippines, Monstress heralds the arrival of a breathtaking new talent on the literary scene: Lysley Tenorio.
Already the worthy recipient of a Pushcart Prize, a Whiting Writer's Award, and a Stegner Fellowship, Tenorio brilliantly explores the need to find connections, the melancholy of isolation, and the sometimes suffocating ties of family in tales that range from a California army base to a steamy moviehouse in Manilla, to the dangerous false glitter of Hollywood.
The style in all of these stories is very straightforward - no postmodern trickery or stories in verse - just standard narratives with exemplary execution. While the book has no overt, all-encompassing theme or recurring characters, all of the stories are like courses from the same meal - some sweet, some warm - that together make for a very satisfying experience. (Reviewed by Beverly Melven).
A wondrous clutch of stories that pits the customs and superstitions of his Philippines homeland against the fads and fetishes of his adopted America.
Jason Rice, Three Guys One Book
This story slipped around me like a tailored suit. Tenorio writes with a casual precision that bleeds equal parts emotion and resigned complacency.
[Tenorio] has taken a uniquely Filipino-American perspective, polyglot and glittering with cinema dreams, and used it to make a bold collection of stories of the rejected, the helpless and the lost. Monstress is the debut of a singular talent.
Complex, and powerful... This first collection introduces a writer of great promise, whose stories can illustrate tenderness at one minute and human cruelty not much later.
[An] intimate and admirably controlled debut story collection… Monstress [is] an introduction to a promising writer who knows how to get a reader's attention... Tenorio has a great knack for striking story premises… [and] cultivates a plainspoken (but not blunt) style that recalls Tobias Wolff.
Starred Review. Tenorio's debut story collection is a vibrant survey of Filipino-American immigrant history... [the] question - to exploit one's own or to be exploited - is shrewdly evoked by the author's blend of the harrowing and the absurd.
Peter Ho Davies, author of The Welsh Girl
Lysley Tenorio is a writer of sly wit and lively invention - these are stories bursting with wonders... but most wondrous of all is his intimate sense of character. Each story is a confession of love betrayed, told with a mournful, austere tenderness as heartbreaking as it is breathtaking.
Chang-Rae Lee, New York Times bestselling author of Native Speaker and The Surrender
The stories in Monstress announce the debut of an electric literary talent. Brilliantly quirky, often moving, always gorgeously told, these are tales of big-hearted misfits who yearn for their authentic selves with extraordinary passion and grace. Bravo for this fabulous American fiction!
Ben Fountain, PEN/Hemingway award-winning author of Brief Encounters with Che Guevara
Tenorio is that rare breed of writer who mines gold from the impossible. He sees everything - the absurd and the tragic, the funny and profound - and delivers stories that are as true to life as any you will ever read.
Lysley Tenorio (pronounced LESS-lee ten-OH-rio) is the winner of several awards, including the Whiting Writers' Award, the Nelson Algren Award, and a Pushcart Prize - and fellowships from Phillip Exeter Academy, The MacDowell Colony, Yaddo, the University of Wisconsin, and a Stegner Fellowship from Stanford University. He earned his MFA at the University of Oregon, and received a National Endowment for the Arts in 2006. His stories have appeared in The Best New American Voices, Ploughshares, Zoetrope: All-Story, Manoa and The Atlantic. Born in the Philippines, Tenorio moved to the US as an infant. He lives in San Francisco and is on the faculty of St. Mary's College in California.
Click on the video below to hear Lysley talk about his beginnings as a writer:
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