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Lualhati Bautista’s ‘Dekada ’70’ might be a Penguin Classic soon

We don’t usually get excited over emails, but this one dropped by veteran novelist Lualhati Bautista is a straight-up exception.

On her official Facebook page tonight, the writer-activist shared an interesting email all the way from New York, which according to her has been sitting in her inbox since Jan. 5. If you scroll through the post first to spoil yourself on who the sender is, well, it’s from Elda Rotor, vice president and publisher of Penguin Classics. 

“I had learned about your modern classic Dekada 70 from my International Sales colleagues and was intrigued by the work and its impact and study in Philippine classrooms.  I read your English translation of Dekada 70 and found the Bartolome family’s story in the era of Martial Law, especially from the mother Amanda’s perspective, very moving, timely, and propulsive and see the potential for your classic for a wider English-language audience, especially students, outside the Philippines,” says the first part of the email.

Rotor proceeded to ask about the books’ publishing specifics, like its World English rights, as they’re interested in publishing it as a Penguin Classics edition. Bautista didn’t disclose anything beyond that, but really, that’s enough for us to celebrate. 

Deemed as an international shelf of classic books from different genres and histories, Penguin Classics boasts more than a thousand titles of cultural markers in their lineup, like “Wuthering Heights,” “Little Women,” and “Les Miserables.” Some of the homegrown works in their roster include Jose Rizal’s “Noli Me Tangere” and “El Filibusterismo,” and Nick Joaquin’s “The Woman Who Had Two Navels and Tales of Tropical Gothic,” among others. 

Political fiction novel “Dekada ’70” follows middle-aged Amanda Bartolome navigating through the dark times of Martial Law with her sheltered middle-class family. Apart from other socio-political themes embedded in the novel, it fearlessly dissects how a woman is treated—and is pushed to fight back—in a patriarchal society. An English version of the book has been available since last year.

We have yet to see the continuation of this proposal, but we’re glad that this popular required reading is getting more audiences—especially in times of historical revisionism. 

Photo (1) from Lualhati Bautista’s Facebook page


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