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On R. Zamora Linmark’s “Leche.”

There’s no reason why R. Zamora Linmark shouldn’t shoot for the Great Philippine Novel in his ambitious and wide-ranging new book, Leche, even if it’s told from the perspective of a balikbayan, returning to the Philippines after 13 years. The fact that there may be anywhere from 8.2 to 11 million Filipinos overseas – about 10 percent of the Filipino population – surely makes it an “authentic” Filipino stance from which to write. Two of the greatest chroniclers of the Filipino experience, N.V.M. Gonzalez and Bienvenido Santos, wrote from this same vantage point of in-betweenness, after all. Part linear journey of discovery, part fractured travelogue and history lesson, Leche brilliantly milks (ahem) those forms. (Yes, I can get away with that pun because I’m Filipino — see more below.)