‘Dekada ’70’ Penguin edition? Lualhati Bautista gets offer to have novel published

January 28, 2022 - 12:18 PM
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Lualhati Bautista in UP
Lualhati Bautista speaks in this photo uploaded on her personal Facebook account with the University of the Philippines' watermark on Oct. 24, 2014. (Photo from Lualhati Bautista via Facebook)

Award-winning author Lualhati Bautista received an offer from Penguin Classics, an international publishing company, to publish her novel “Dekada ’70.”

Bautista shared an excerpt of a letter she received from the publisher of Penguin Classics in a post on Facebook on Thursday, January 20.

“Bakit ba ngayon ko lang ito naisipang ipagyabang–este, i-post. January 5 pa ito, a. E- mail from New York,” she started.

The letter was penned by Elda Rotor, the vice-president and publisher of Penguin.

Rotor told Bautista that she got intrigued by “Dekada ’70” after learning about it from her colleagues.

“I had learned about your modern classic ‘Dekada 70’ from my International Sales colleagues and was intrigued by the work and its impact and study in Philippine classrooms,” Rotor said.

“I read your English translation of Dekada 70 and found the Bartolome family’s story in the era of Martial Law, especially from the mother Amanda’s perspective, very moving, timely, and propulsive and see the potential for your classic for a wider English-language audience, especially students, outside the Philippines,” she added.

Rotor then asked Bautista if it was possible for “Dekada 70” to be published as a Penguin Classics, an imprint of Penguin Books.

Bautista is currently self-publishing the 1983 historical fiction novel.

“I know that you are currently self-publishing and distributing the English translation. I would like to know if World English rights are available (including non-exclusive in the Philippines) and if you would be interested in discussing the possible publication of Dekada 70 as a Penguin Classics edition. Are rights available for print, eBook and Audio formats?” Rotor said.

Bautista did not share the entire letter of Rotor saying it is a lengthy email.

So far, Penguin Classics carries only a few titles from Filipino authors.

These include Jose Rizal’s “Noli Me Tangere” and “El Filibusterismo,” Nick Joaquin’s “The Woman Who Had Two Navels and Tales of the Tropical Gothic,” and Jose Garcia Villa’s “Doveglion: Collected Poems.”

Congraulatory messages for Batutista

The National Book Development Board later congratulated Bautista on Facebook.

“Lubos kaming nagagalak sa balitang ito, Ms. Lualhati Bautista. Mabuhay po kayo!” read its post.

Fellow writers also cheered for the renowned novelist in the comments section of Bautista’s post.

This include screenwriter Jerry Gracio and poet Merlie Alunan.

“Excited ako dito, Ma’am!” Gracio said.

“Congratulations, Idol,” Alunan said.

Karina Bolasco, the director of Ateneo de Manila University Press, also shared that she talked with Rotor about publishing Filipino works in Penguin Classics.

“Wow, Inê! I know you had asked someone already to translate it to English. Tapos na? This is what I had raised with Elda before, that our writers in Tagalog unless translated will not be featured in the Penguin Classics. Only writers in English. Happy that yours will be the first showcase of our fiction in Filipino. Congrats!” Bolasco said.

Bautista’s fans on Reddit were also amazed by this offer.

“This is historic. Not only na timely siya sa nangyayari ngayon na pinapabango ang nangyari noong Martial Law, kung matutuloy ay siya ang magiging unang Pilipina,” one Reddit user said.