The Importance of Representation in Literature

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Writing and publishing “The Hurricane Wars” has provided Thea Guanzon with a profound understanding of the significance of representation in literature. As advanced copies of her book made their way into the hands of readers, Guanzon started receiving numerous messages from the Filipino diaspora, particularly in the United States. These readers expressed their joy in seeing Filipino representation within the pages of the book. This experience helped Guanzon realize the necessity of diversity in literature, as people deserve to see themselves reflected in the stories they read.

Guanzon shares, “It was a rewarding experience because I was able to help these individuals feel represented in the media. There were also Filipino immigrants who hadn’t been back to the country in quite a while. It was heartbreaking to hear some of them apologize for forgetting how to speak Tagalog. They expressed how much they missed home and how reading the book made them feel connected to their roots, even if just for a while. It was truly incredible to be able to share a piece of the Philippines with the wider world.”

Currently, Guanzon is working on the second part of “The Hurricane Wars,” and she also has plans for another novel in the genre of urban fantasy. Her accomplishments extend beyond her writing as well. Last November, she was invited as a guest speaker at the Singapore Writers’ Festival. Additionally, a Spanish translation of her novel, titled “Se Avecina una Tormenia,” will be published on February 13 by Umbriel.

Reflecting on the journey she has embarked upon, Guanzon expresses nothing but gratitude for the opportunities that have come her way in 2023. With a strong presence on social media, she recently shared a heartfelt post on Facebook, which resonated with her followers:

“I have been writing for as long as I can remember. Novellas, poetry, fanfic — you name it. There has always been a burning desire within me to express what resides in my heart, to tell the stories that dwell in my mind. However, being located in the Global South and coming from generations of professionals in law and medicine, I never believed it could be anything more than a hobby. It wasn’t until 2020 that I took a leap of faith, quitting my office job and deferring my master’s program abroad to write a fantasy romance epic rooted in Southeast Asian culture, tradition, and mythology.”

Guanzon further reflects on her past struggles with mental health and the pursuit of degrees that were deemed “acceptable,” even though her true passion was always writing. She expresses a desire for her younger self to witness the achievements she has attained and to find solace in the fact that her dreams were indeed possible. Rather than dwelling on what could have been, Guanzon chooses to embrace the present moment, acknowledging that her past experiences have shaped the voice she now shares with the world.

Proudly representing her motherland, the Philippines, Guanzon hopes that her achievements can serve as a catalyst for Southeast Asian policymakers to address the gaps in support and infrastructure for local writing scenes. Additionally, she aims to motivate the global publishing industry to seek out more Southeast Asian writers and provide them with a platform to share their stories.

At its core, “The Hurricane Wars” is not only a gripping love story set in a fantastical world but also a novel that delves into larger social and political contexts. It can be described as a perfect storm of a book, capturing the hearts and minds of readers around the world.

Source: The Manila Times

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