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  Commendation for Merlinda Bobis’ Works:  
Praise for Merlinda Bobis' WorksLocust Girl is a transfiguring fiction that asks the reader to reflect on, and see into the hearts and lives of, those whom political systems and nations label outsiders. … There were many fine and stylistically accomplished works among this year’s entries, but the distinctiveness, sweep and visual power of this short novel set it apart. Bobis’ fabulist, indeed fabulous, narrative enables the reader to imagine what it might look, smell and feel like to be treated as less than fully human.’
- Judges’ comments, Christina Stead Prize, 2016

‘The result is a book [Locust Girl] that can be read with pleasure for its language alone, and which subtly and surely subverts the status quo. Bobis messes with our minds, in the very best way.’
- The Age, 2015

‘Merlinda Bobis’ Fish-Hair Woman is a superb novel ... Written in beautifully lush, yet sharply focused language this tour de force is a tragic tale of a family destroyed during the “total war’’ ... Balancing the evocation of the fecund world being fought over is an angry rigour. The story never defects to the easy resolution but maintains its tragic intensity throughout.’
- The Australian, 2012

‘...a tangled story of impressive emotional power.’
- South Australia Weekend, 2012

‘The merging of memory with the present gives the prose the quality of a dream that’s risen in the blue hours of dawn ... As I was reading my thoughts kept turning to Wide Sargasso Sea. It shares with Jean Rhys’s masterpiece more than just a threat to topple into tragedy, but Fish-Hair Woman takes a wider view. It is a love story, a murder mystery, a story about family and a story about the impact of the kind of self-perpetuating government corruption that so often befalls a country in political turmoil. It’s ambitious and sprawling ...’
- Verity La, 2012

‘Perhaps only a poet could transform the themes of her second novel into something as gorgeous, disturbing, loving, and oddly hopeful as The Solemn Lantern Maker.’
- The Boston Globe, 2009

‘Bobis extracts splendour from burning dread and loss. With delicate, spare prose and silent spaces, this is definitely a thoughtful read, but also an enduring and significant one. The Solemn Lantern Maker is a sumptuously shimmering novel.’
- The Independent Weekly, 2008

 ‘Merlinda Bobis’ second novel is a beguiling mix of polarities: of the holy and the profane, of Third-World Asian poverty and white Western affluence … the book is suffused with gorgeous imagery. … [It] dazzles like a kaleidoscope.’
- The Age, 2008

‘Poet Bobis serves up compassion and tenderness in generous portions in her fiction debut [Banana Heart Summer].’
- Publishers Weekly, 2008

‘Not only does Merlinda Bobis embody the push and pull between different cultures and languages but also, and more importantly, she ultimately transcends these barriers. … By introducing and interweaving such traditional elements as epic chanting, unglossed indigenous words, ritual and dance the Cantata has managed to become a successful attempt to re-invent both western and indigenous theatrical discourses, and thus to question all kinds of clear-cut divisions and binarisms. Merlinda Bobis has hybridized tradition, has transcended the rigid framework of any particular culture to create her own form, that is, to create herself.’
- Portal, 2007

‘[Banana Heart Summer] is poetry in prose, where ordinary things and events are raised to the level of the strange and unfamiliar. Magic. The style … is at the surface simple, but is in fact, complex because largely metaphorical and meanings are multi-layered … this kind of strategy may be a little too long drawn out for some readers, but certainly not for some rich sensibilities for whom this oeuvre is nothing short of dazzling.’
- The Philippine Star, 2005

‘Banana Heart Summer is an extraordinarily moving book… there is so much in that [first] paragraph, from pathos and tragedy to humour and redemption, that is laid out on a platter to whet the appetite of the reader for the details, the recipes, the mix of language and food and human nature … ’
- Eureka Street, 2005

‘In Banana Heart Summer, Bobis has combined a sensuous literary style with the simplicity of desire.’
- Canberra Times, 2005

‘Cultures meet, mix, and sometimes collide on the tongue — in a taste, a word, a kiss — in Merlinda Bobis’ book of short stories The Kissing … Her poetic background shines through in her short stories with piercing metaphors … Many of the images stay with the reader longer after he/she puts down the book.’
- Asianweek.com, 2001

‘… you will want to read these stories as you fall asleep and savor them one each night, to extend the pleasure of discovering that politically conscious writing can be stylistically innovative and challenging, as well as simply beautiful.’
- Pacific Reader, 2001

‘The power to amaze is what happens when a writer collapses parallel universes of the real and the fantastic, and Bobis does so convincingly.’
- Banana Café E-zine, Canada, 2001

‘Bobis for the most part displays admirable control and indeed a sublime cleverness ...’
- The Philippine Star, 2000

‘To read Merlinda Bobis’ collection of short fiction is to sample as riot of tastes indivisible from that other joy of the tongue — language … It would be hard to find a writer with more love and reverence for all the pleasures the tongue is capable of enduring.’
- Ms. Magazine, New York, 2000

‘How else could one describe this rare energy squeezed most of the time in short, short pieces brimming with a kind of surreal disassociativeness but with a logic of its own, spinning with an enchantment that is a shamanlike summoning up of experience within the reader?’
- Philippine Daily Inquirer, 2000

‘Bobis is a storyteller whose work draws on the ancient Pacific talkstory tradition yet also blasts it apart with exciting new sounds and juxtapositions. She is always issuing a challenge to the reader — a haka from the pen.’
- New Fiction from the Pacific, NZ, 1999

‘It is a difficult writing to categorise — it slides and dives between something which is, but isn’t magic realism … More effective than any detached postcolonial analysis are Bobis’ delicate delineations of ordinary lives in juxtapositions of poverty and wealth which transcend stereotypes or easy sentiment … All these stories spin their substance out of a delight in language together with an acute sensitivity to the social.’
- Australian Women’s Book Review, 1999

‘Just as the scent of guavas, papayas and lemon grass lulls the reader into a false sense of security Bobis runs out, machete waving, to cut down all the stereotypes about Asian women, migration, love, hope, storytelling and everything else. Then she soothes your wounds again with the healing power of her delicious imagery and her wickedly wild and whimsical imagination.’
- Generation Asia, Australia, 1999

‘Rita’s Lullaby is a poignant poem, a dramatic song both terrible and beautiful.’
- Judges, Ian Reed Radio Drama Prize, 1995

‘May drama ang kanyang mga taludturan. Yaong dramang nanunulay sa karahasan at pagsuyo ng mga salita at parirala. Yaong dramang umiigpaw sa limitasyon ng kahulugan at kabuluhan, unmaalunignig sa panloob na pandinig, humaharaya sa panloob na mata, bumabaon sa kubling pandama.’

(There is drama in her lines. That drama flowing in the violence and tenderness of words and phrases. That drama which goes beyond the limitation of meaning and purpose, that echoes in the inner ear, that delights the inner eye, that buries itself in the hidden urge.)
- Ruth Elynia Mabanglo (University of Hawai’i) on ang lipad ay awit sa apat na hangin (flight is song on four winds), 1990

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