Monica Macansantos

Monica is writing a novel about the nature of complicity in Marcos-era Philippines, and a critical study of the Martial Law Novel.

Commenced 2015

Monica Macansantos was born and raised in the Philippines, and holds an MFA from the Michener Center for Writers at the University of Texas at Austin. Her work has appeared in The Masters Review, Day One, Longform Fiction, Five Quarterly, Thin Noon, The Fictioneer, Shirley, Aotearotica, and TAYO Literary Magazine, among other places. Her essay, 'Becoming A Writer: The Silences We Write Against', was named a Notable Essay in The Best American Essays 2016, edited by Jonathan Franzen and Robert Atwan. Her story, 'Leaving Auckland', was a Finalist in the Summer 2016 Glimmer Train Fiction Open and was subsequently serialised as a novella on the website (2018), while her story, 'Stopover', earned an Honorable Mention in the Winter 2013 Glimmer Train Fiction Open. Her work has been recognized with residencies at Hedgebrook and the Kimmel Harding Nelson Center for the Arts.

Monica writes: 'My novel is tentatively titled The People We Trust, and examines the lives of three young people who come of age during the early years of the Marcos dictatorship.

'In my accompanying critical study, I will discuss novels about the Marcos dictatorship in the Philippines. I will refer to fiction written about the Marcos dictatorship as "Martial Law Fiction", a term coined by Gerald T. Burns in his 1994 essay, "Philippine Martial Law Fiction: Phases in the Early Evolution of the Genre", to describe what he calls a genre of historical fiction written specifically about the Marcos years. For purposes of clarity, it is worth mentioning that "Martial Law" is a term used by journalists and scholars alike in the Philippines to refer to the Marcos years.

'The Martial Law novel is part of a larger tradition of historical novel writing in the Philippines. In these novels, the interrogation of nationhood and identity is mediated through fictional characters who become actively involved in their nation's politics after realising that their private lives cannot be completely divorced from the life of their nation. In the Philippines, nationalism is predicated upon a consciousness of the nation's history, and these novels perform the dual function of inculcating and interrogating nationhood. The fact that these novels occupy opposing roles as vehicles and interrogators of nationhood goes to show how contentious the idea of national identity is in the Philippines. It is an idea that needs continuous reinforcement among its citizens in order to become acknowledged truth, and it also needs to be continuously interrogated in light of historical events that challenge its legitimacy.'

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