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Literary titan F. Sionil Jose's family shares his 100 recommended books on his death anniversary

By NICK GARCIA Published Jan 06, 2023 1:30 pm

The family of the late National Artist for Literature F. Sionil Jose posted his list of 100 recommended books on the day of his first death anniversary, Jan. 6.

Through Jose's official Facebook account, his family shared his list comprising foreign and local literary classics.

"Perhaps you have read some of them or will add a few to your reading list for 2023," Jose's family via his Facebook account said, adding that during grade school, he read Jose Rizal, "the greatest influence throughout his writing career."

"I was reading the Noli one early evening and when I came to the part where the priest accused the brothers Crispin and Basilio of stealing, I was so angry I started crying," Jose is quoted as saying.

Among the Filipino authors in the list include Manuel Arguilla, How My Brother Leon Brought Home a Wife; Gregorio Brillantes, On a Clear Day in November; Carlos Bulosan, America is in the Heart; Gilda Cordero-Fernando, Story Collection; and Nick Joaquin, A Question of Heroes, Culture and History.

Foreign literary greats in Jose's list include Albert Camus, Anton Chekhov, Confucius, T.S. Eliot, William Faulkner, and William Shakespeare.

His list also includes the Bible.

Jose died in his sleep at 97 years old.

He was supposed to undergo surgery the on Jan. 7 at the Makati Medical Center, according to his wife Tessie. (She passed away nine months later, on Oct. 7.)

In 1958, he founded the Philippine Center of International PEN (Poets, Playwrights, Essayists, Novelists), the local chapter of the leading international literary organization. In his five-decade writing career, the fictionist wrote over 35 books translated into 28 languages, as well as columns for The Philippine STAR.

He also opened Solidaridad Bookshop on Padre Faura Street in Ermita. The book store is considered as a haven of Filipino literature lovers, housing a treasure trove of Filipiniana titles. It was named one of the world’s most brilliant bookshops by the Financial Times readers in 2021.

During his twilight years, however, Jose was caught in a string of controversies for his opinions, including support for former president Rodrigo Duterte, Sinophobia, delight over the ABS-CBN shutdown, and disapproval of journalist Maria Ressa winning the Nobel Peace Prize.