Short Stories, Irish literature, Classics, Modern Fiction, Contemporary Literary Fiction, The Japanese Novel, Post Colonial Asian Fiction, The Legacy of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and quality Historical Novels are Among my Interests

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Isabel Yap - Two Fascinating Works of Speculative Fiction

Isabel Yap's Webpage. Includes Links to her Stories

Very recently I read and posted on Alyssa Wong's Nebula Prize Winning short story, "Hungry Daughters of Starving Mothers".   In an interview on Wong's very well done webpage, she recommended several other writers of speculative fiction, among them Isabel Yap.

Isabel Yap's webpage has links to several works of speculative fiction (some use the term "fantasy").  Yap grew up in the greater Manila area, where many of my readers as well as my family and I live, and some of her fiction is set there.  I read two of her stories (there are links to all these stories on Yap's webpage) and I liked them both a lot.

Short, third-person bio: Isabel Yap writes fiction and poetry, works in the tech industry, and drinks tea. Born and raised in Manila, she has also lived in California, Tokyo, and London. In 2013 she attended the Clarion Writers Workshop. Her work has recently appeared on, Uncanny Magazine, Shimmer Magazine, and Year’s Best Weird Fiction volume 2. She is @visyapon Twitter and her website is
Photo credit: Katie Williams
Photo credit: Katie Williams
Longer bio:
I was born in Manila, Philippines in 1990, and grew up in Quezon City. In 2013 I graduated from Santa Clara University with a degree in Marketing and minors in Japanese and English. That same year, I attended the Clarion Writers Workshop in San Diego. By day I work for a San Francisco-based start-up in the mobile app industry (yes, it’s very Silicon Valley).
I once almost slid off the muddy face of Mt. Makiling and plummeted to my doom.
I like to write all kinds of things, especially short fiction and poetry. I’ve also written over a hundred fics for more than thirty fandoms. I haven’t written too many lately, but I pop up every now and then if I think a story needs telling.
Someday I hope to write longer things.
If you feed me sugar I will be rather pleased.
I like nice people, ugly dogs, observation, music, tea, hard lemonade, and ramen. From her webpage 

I will keep my comments on each story brief so as to allow those into speculative fiction to expand without having the plot of the stories overly revealed to them.

"The Orian's Song" is a very impressively written and researched work about the life of a woman being used, during World War II, as a "pleasure girl" by a troop of Japanese soldiers.  She was raised in the floating world of Tokyo in a tea shop, when such places were combinations of brothels and geisha houses.  The soldiers could not have afforded the rates of the floating world so below the surface this is a story of class distinctions.  The woman has been taught to shot and has other duties also.  We come to learn of the names of spirits of the countryside of Japan. The woman hates the soldiers, there is also a seemingly gay young man also with her.  "The Orian's" song is very interesting for the use of folk lore, the recreation of the days of World War II, and for the skill Yap shows in getting us involved with the characters.

"Have You Heard the One About Anamaria Marquez?" Is set in Manila.  It really does a wonderful job with the venue in an all girls private school and makes use of a wide range of suspicious or folk beliefs.  It is narrated via conversations among prep school girls.I admit I laughed out loud when I read these lines about one of the teachers at the school.

"Ms. Salinas was young and super skinny, which made up for her ducklike face. On the scale of teachers she was neither bad nor good. She liked to wear white pants, and a rumor had recently spread about how she liked to wear lime-green thongs and was therefore slutty. We amused ourselves during home ec. trying to look through her white pants every time she turned, crouched, or bent."

As to why wearing lime green thongs means you are a slut, who knows, but it for sure rang true as part of the conversations of the students.

The story begins with an account of the opening of the third eye of a teacher.  It quickly expands into various explanations as to how and why one of the students committed suicide.  The story does make uses of Tagalog expressions, to me they enhance the story.  Students at elite private schools all speak English, most instruction is done in English but in conversation even with each other in English they will often use Tagalog expressions.  Google translate will tell you "ate" means "older sister" but there is a deep cultural meaning to this expression and others used in the story.

The girls are all from affluent families and you can sense this in the story.  I really enjoyed this work.

I hope to follow Isabel Yap's development.

Mel u
The Reading Life

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