Positively Filipino review of A Village in the Fields

Elaine Elinson, coauthor with Stan Yogi of Wherever There’s a Fight: How Runaway Slaves, Suffragists, Immigrants, Strikers and Poets Shaped Civil Liberties in California and the United Farm Workers representative for the grape boycott in Europe, wrote a “thorough and insightful” – quoting my good friend Kimi – review, which was posted on Positively Filipino, “the premier digital native magazine celebrating the story of Filipinos in the diaspora of nearly 13 million expatriates.”

You can read the review here. Elinson originally wrote it for the AmerAsia Journal, which is published by the Center Press out of UCLA and is the leading interdisciplinary journal in Asian American Studies. The review will appear in AmerAsia Journal’s upcoming Winter 2015-2016 issue. Stay tuned for that.

Elinson brought up a couple of issues in her review, which I’m grateful for her pointing out. I erroneously stated that Larry Itliong’s hometown province was Ilocos Norte, which is unforgiving, given the amount of painstaking research I conducted. While embarrassing, the error can be (and will be) easily fixed in the next edition.

The other issue she brought up, which is just as critical if not more critical to fix, is my not using the real name of a Yemeni farm worker who was an important picket captain in the union. As it was my first novel, I was unsure of how to approach real people in a fictional world. Initially, I wasn’t comfortable characterizing the famous people of the era, but somehow their very status helped me overcome the discomfort. I fictionalized in name and characterization these two other characters because I didn’t know much about their personal lives and I also wasn’t sure what my liability was if I did use their real names. But Elinson provides a compelling argument for using the Yemeni’s real name. The novel celebrates the “little people” of the grape strike, the ones who sacrificed and lost so much, and whose lives the world knows little about. So in the next edition, I will include information in the Notes section about who he was and his contributions. While I am deeply grateful for Elinson’s kind words about my novel, I am most grateful for her pointing out areas that need to be addressed because it means the novel will get better.


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