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Merlinda Bobis


Filipina-Australian writer, performer, and academic Merlinda Bobis swears by the joys of the palate and the senses. “It is not simply about consumption of food or words, but delight in all their possible evocations—it is, after all, a shame not to do justice to the little pink animal in the mouth.”


Bobis grew up in Albay, Philippines. The author of two novels, five poetry books, seven dramatic works, a monograph (lecture series), and a collection of short stories, she has received numerous accolades and awards for her work. These include the Steele Rudd Award (for the Best Collection of Australian Short Stories, 2000) and the Philippine National Book Award (2000) for White Turtle (The Kissing); the Prix Italia (1998), the Australian Writers’ Guild Award (1998), and the Ian Reed Radio Drama Prize (1995) for her play Rita’s Lullaby. Bobis’ Philippine national literary awards include the Carlos Palanca (1987, 1989) and the Gawad Cultural Centre of the Philippines for her poetry (1990) in English and Pilipino.


Bobis’ Summer Was A Fast Train Without Terminals was shortlisted for Australia’s The Age Poetry Book Award (1998). Her novels Banana Heart Summer (Pier 9, Murdoch Books Australia, 2005) and Solemn Lantern Maker (Pier 9, Murdoch Books Australia, 2008) have also earned praise and recognition. Her debut novel, Banana Heart Summer, received the Gintong Aklat (Golden Book Award) in 2006, was nominated for the Best in Foreign Language Award by the Manila Critics Circle, and was shortlisted for the Australian Literature Society Gold Medal. She was also honored by the Unyon ng Manunulat ng Pilipinas (Union of Philippine Writers) in 2006 with the National Balagtas Award for lifetime achievement in her poetry and prose in Pilipino, Bikol, and English.


Merlinda earned a B.A. from Aquinas University of Legazpi and an M.A. in Literature from the University of Santo Tomas, Manila. She completed a Doctorate of Creative Arts at the University of Wollongong in New South Wales, Australia, where she currently teaches creative writing. Bobis is an accomplished performer of her own poetry, embodying text in dance, music, and theatre. Her latest novel, Fish-Hair Woman, came out in 2012.


To learn more about Merlinda and her work, visit her website.



An Anthology of Filipina and Filipina-American Writers

By Merlinda Bobis

As the first international anthology of Filipina writers published in the United States, Babaylan reflects the complex history of a people whose roots have stretched to both sides of the globe. With contributions from over 60 Filipina and Filipina American writers,Babaylan provides readers with a comprehensive view of a growing and vibrant transnational literary culture. Challenging, innovative, fierce, reflective, somber, funny—no one word can capture the extraordinary range of this collection. The voices represented in this collection offer a broad and varied perspective on the Filipina writer whose diasporic existence is a living, breathing bridge, not only between countries but also generations, as strong voices from the past fuel realities of the future.

The Kissing

By Merlinda Bobis

"Shrimp, pasta, papaya, gingered chicken, steak and peppercorns, coconut meat, sticky yams, McDonald's hamburgers, banana heart...To read Merlinda Bobis's collection of short fiction is to sample a riot of tastes indivisible from that other joy of the tongue-language."

- EJ Patrick, Ms. Magazine


Babaylan brings to the concert halls of the United States a full-bodied chorus of Filipino women's voices. Welcome the songs and stories of these women with applause. Bravo!

—Edna Zapanta-Manlapaz, Professor at Ateneo de Manila University and editor of Song of Ourselves


This collection of work by Filipina writers insipres with passion, delights with lush imagery and sound, and swells with unbridled language. Brave and beautiful, these many-voiced, multifaceted authors gave readers the first comprehensive look at a literary culture that has been ignored for far too long.

—Allison Jospeph, author of In Every Seam


These are the stories and moments of women—some heartbreaking, some funny, all true to the heart. And the Phillipines is always present: as a landscape, memory, ghost. Babaylan is a feast for the senses, so eat your fill.

—Andrea Louie, Publications Director of the Asian American Writers' Workshop and author of Moon Cakes

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