Stacking the Shelves # 1

smaller and smaller circlesI’m participating in another meme called Stacking the Shelves hosted by Tynga’s Reviews. It’s a good chance for me to present (if not show off) what I have purchased from the bookstores or borrowed from the school library where I’m a part-time college instructor.

Since my reading tastes are varied, it was not a surprise that I picked up Smaller and Smaller Circles by F.H. Batacan, a new-to-me writer, from the Filipiniana shelf of a local bookstore. What captured my attention were (1) the cover, (2) the synopsis and (3) the first page of the story.

The cover is not your regular design for a Filipiniana book. Oftentimes, cover designs of books written by Filipinos evoke a sense of patriotism. For a split second, I thought Batacan’s novel was written by an American. But when I read the author’s last name, I immediately knew the book was written by a Filipino. Also, it mentions that the book is a winner of the Philippine National Book Award, Carlos Palanca Memorial Award and Madrigal-Gonzalez Best First Book Award. Now that’s truly something.

The synopsis says that the book is “widely regarded as the first Filipino crime novel”. The sucker-for-crime-fiction in me immediately picked it up and read the entire synopsis:

This harrowing mystery follows two Catholic priests on the hunt through Manila for a brutal serial killer.

Payatas, a 50-acre dump northeast of Manila’s Quezon City, is home to thousands of people who live of what they can scavenge there. It is one of the poorest neighborhoods in a city whose law enforcement is already stretched thin, devoid of forensic resources and rife with corruption. So when the eviscerated bodies of preteen boys begin to appear in the dump heaps, there is no one to seek justice on their behalf. In the rainy summer of 1997, two Jesuit priests take the matter of protecting their flock into their own hands.

Smaller and Smaller Circles, widely regarded as the first Filipino crime novel, is a poetic masterpiece of literary noir, a sensitive depiction of a time and place, and a fascinating story about in the Catholic Church and its place in its devotee’s lives.

Then the first page of the Batacan’s book goes like this:

Some days I just can’t seem to focus. It’s hard to concentrate on what’s going on around me, on what I’m doing.

It’s been getting worse lately. Sometimes I feel overwhelmed from the moment I wake up in the morning, as though something bad is going to happen. I can’t breathe; my right hands and feet are cold. My head hurts.

I feel like everything I do from sunup to sundown is just to keep this bad thing from happening. And every day I have to do more and more. It is exhausting. Nothing that I do is ever enough.

I feel like I’m always being watched.

I hate being watched.

And now, the book is going to be turned into a movie.

What’s new on your shelf?

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