Maria Kristelle C. Jimenez, the current Editor-in-Chief of Vox Populi PH, won third place in this year’s Peter’s Prize for Covid Literature, Chapbook category. Peter’s Prize for Covid Literature is spearheaded by the Peter Solis Nery Foundation, a non-profit group that aims to promote, develop and propagate Hiligaynon literature, Filipino culture and art through various methods of education, dissemination, research efforts, and publications.
Kristelle, a publishing professional with more than half a decade of experience in the independent writing and publishing scene, said that the winning chapbook “Anatomiya ng Pandemya” was borne out of a need to be different, and to rock readers out of complacency. She also thanks the foundation, jurors, and readers for a good start to the writing year.
“Kahit ang tagal-tagal ko nang nagsusulat-naglilimbag, iba palagi ang pakiramdam kapag sumusubok ako ng bago. Ganito rin ang “isolated case” ko after submitting “Anatomiya ng Pandemya” para sa Peter’s Prize for COVID Literature.
“Bago siya, hindi tipikal sa porma ng pagsusulat ko ng dagli’t maikling kuwento. Ito rin siguro ang dahilan kung bakit noong napagdesisyunan ko na gawin itong zine ay hindi rin siya naging pamilyar sa mga nagbabasa sa akin noon. Dala rin ng tight schedule, hindi ko rin nagawang simulan ang para dapat sa patimpalak na ito (mga food essay tungkol sa umusbong na kultura ng pagkain noong nagkapandemya).” stated Jimenez on her recent Facebook post.
The Absurdist Turn in PH Lit
“Anatomiya ng Pandemya” is one of the few collections of absurdist fiction in the Philippines. It is comprised of five short stories with shifting centers — the milieu is always familiar, but the stories tackle more than what conventional Filipino fiction usually offers.
The story “Muning” tackles obsessions and a manifestation of pica, and the dysfunctional Filipino family.
“Sunod-sunod” is an immersive and horrifying foray into imprisonment during the pandemic, and perhaps, by the economy. The Janus-face of writing, split between making a living and living out the creative life is highlighted by the protagonist’s engagement with social media.
“Bukambibig” breaks the fourth wall (and several other walls in the process) by connecting the story’s central figure with the author, whose invisible hand sways and manipulates the life and times of the protagonist.
“Balatkayo” is a grinding retelling of the mundane excesses of life during the pandemic and the almost schizophrenic relationships of people as they succumb to the helplessness of it all.
The collection’s conclusion, “Pusod ng Komunidad” takes the reader several thousand leagues under the sea, to a strange yet familiar land where people are obsessed with making money.
For those who would like to read this award-winning work from Maria Kristelle C. Jimenez and other zines from rising voices in Philippine literature, you can now purchase “Anatomiya ng Pandemya” in print at the Vox Zine Shop.