LYRICAL AND POETIC NOVEL BY AWARD WINNING AUTHOR
This 2021 US Edition of the novel MAGDALENA
includes illustrations by the author, Cecilia Manguerra Brainard.
Written in the fragmented style, Philippine American author Cecilia Manguerra Brainard's lyrical novel, MAGDALENA
, tells the story of three generations of Filipino women whose lives have been affected by the Philippine American War, World War Two, and the Vietnam War. A favorite among poets, academics, and feminists, the book has been the subject of academic papers by Drs. John Jack Wigley, Rhodora G. Magan, and Ruth S. Rimando, among others.
An excerpt from World Literature Today's
review says, "Cecilia Manguerra Brainard's novel MAGDALENA
takes its title from a protagonist descended from several generations of equally compelling female characters. Brainard's earlier novel When the Rainbow Goddess Wept
(1994) employed the viewpoint of an adolescent girl to recount the Japanese invasion of the Philippines during World War II. With Magdalena
Brainard uses a nonlinear narrative and multiple points of view to describe the history of the Philippines that roughly corresponds to its contact with the United States from the Spanish-American War to the war in Vietnam. Magdalena begins and ends with the perspective of Juana, daughter of the title character and her American lover (a POW in Vietnam), who is herself pregnant and curious about her family history. Letters, diaries, and narratives from numerous characters help Juana reconstruct her maternal and, to a lesser extent, paternal lineage." Midwest Book Review
reviewed this book as follows:
"Expertly written by Cecilia Manguerra Brainard ... Magdalena is set in the chaotic backdrop of twentieth century East Asia. A romantic, powerful tale of three generations of Filipino women, written with a close eye on the terrors of war and the Japanese invasion of the Philippines during World War II, Magdalena is an intense, involving, highly recommended saga that documents author Cecilia Manguerra Brainard as a gifted author with a mastery of storytelling that will keep the reader's total attention and engagement from first page to last!"
Alma Anonas-Carpio reviewed the book for The Philippines Graphic as follows:
"The story of Magdalena's life is a rich one, full of emotional intensity told with the brilliant clarity of Manguerra Brainard's pen ... Rarely have I read such exquisite command of storytelling as I see in the pages of this novel. Here she uses the backdrop of a Japanese-occupied Philippines to maximum effect, devastating the reader's emotions without giving any quarter nor taking any prisoners. You die inside and come to life again when the feelings of hope hit you-and they will ... Read MAGDALENA to see how the strength and beauty of these women spanned three generations, defeating even death. No, not even death can save you from the intense and iridescent beauty of Manguerra Brainard's mastery of her craft."
Filipino author Linda Ty-Casper
praised the book saying:
"With her second novel, Magdalena, Cecilia Brainard adds new portraits to the gallery in Philippine literature. She has always had a strong sense of place. Here, she provides an inner landscape as well. Together, these provide the coordinate for the family secrets that bind the characters as securely as bloodlines. By the end they have glimpsed who they have become, allowing the novel beyond its last page, to live on in the readers' thoughts."
Likewise the author Aimee Liu said: "
Cecilia Manguerra Brainard has written an ambitious novel of forbidden love. Set against the turbulent history of East Asia in the twentieth century and by turns erotic and tragic, Magdalena vividly depicts three generations of strong Filipino women."
About the Author
Cecilia Manguerra Brainard was born and raised in the port city of Cebu, Philippines, a place she has turned into her mythical setting called "Ubec" for many of her stories. She attended St. Theresa's College and Maryknoll College in the Philippines before migrating to the United States to do graduate work in film making. She later turned to writing and other literary work. She went on to write and edit twenty-two books. Brainard has taught at the University of Southern California, UCLA, California State Summer School for the Arts, UCLA-Extension's Writers Program. She lectures and performs in literary arts venues such as Shakespeare and Company in Paris, Culture Rapide in Paris, Beyond Baroque, PEN, Coming Together in Skokie, Illinois, Second Literary Symposium in Jackson Tennessee, Filipino American International Book Festivals, Cebu Philippines Literary Festivals, and many Philippine and US universities. As a former Executive Board Member of the writers' group PEN, she represented PEN USA West in international meetings in Barcelona and Santiago de Compostela. She served as an officer in such groups as the Midnight Special Cultural Center, PAAWWW (Pacific Asian American Women Writers West), and the Arts & Letters at the Cal State University, Los Angeles. Brainard co-founded PAWWA (Philippine American Women Writers and Artists) a support group that received funding from the California Arts Council. She founded and runs PALH (Philippine American Literary House), a publishing house of fine Philippine American books. She is an active member of the Philippine and Philippine American literary communities. She has received several awards including a California Arts Council Fellowship, a Brody Arts Fund, an Outstanding Individual Award from her birth city Cebu Philippines, a City of Los Angeles Cultural Grand, several USIS grants, California State Senate, 21st District, and others. Her books have won the Gintong Aklat Award, the International Gourmand Award, and others. She is married with three sons.