AWAITING TRESPASS: A Paion by Linda Ty-Casper


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In the first of her books (five novels and two short-story collections) to be published in the US, Ty-Casper offers a fresh, engrossing look at the state of affairs in the Philippines. Three generations of family have gathered to mourn Don Severino, who has died under mysterious circumstances and been nailed up in a closed casket. This eve of the Pope's visit to Manila, under martial law, a family member has just been released from a detention camp where he was punished for criticizing the government in his university newspaper; under the rubric of ""economic aid,"" the US and Japan exploit Filipino workers and build factories and reactors which violate safety regulations back home, for "". . .anything unsafe in the world finds its way to the Philippines."" Telly, the Don's orphaned niece, a ""poet of the mind"" who's afraid to set words to paper, is a beautiful dilettante who, 25 years ago, left her chronically unfaithful husband and tried to drown herself in a river in upstate New York. Sevi, the Don's son--though his paternity was always in doubt--has become a priest against his father's wishes. There's conflict between Don Severino's old friends, who donate large sums to beautify Sevi's church so that the Pope and foreign journalists will be distracted from the poverty of the parish, and Sevi, who wants the money to be spent, instead, on the hungry and sick. Yet he wonders whether he took his vows insincerely, out of rebellion. As soon as the cousins, priest and socialite, orphans and outsiders, see each other, they feel a strong attraction. Telly thinks of Sevi: "". . .there is a certain majesty that comes to those who do not hunger for things. They seem most alive to her, those who resist the world. . ."" The casket is opened: it is clear that the mutilated Don Severino was tortured by the police. As an act of defiance, the family leaves it open until they lower him into the grave. Telly decides she will write, now, about all of them, for the sake of her student nephew whose writing endangers him, and for her uncle, ""in remembrance."" This deeply moving book--banned in the Philippines--is full of good people, good talk, and a wisdom regarding the inner life. Its Joycean expansion, from the funeral event to a portrait of a small, blighted country held hostage by other powers, reveals a fragile beauty that persists in this place and people.

Pub Date: Oct. 15th, 1985
Publisher: Readers International--dist. by Persea