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Filipina author to share her experiences as a writer (Released: 4/10/96)

by Luis Mocete, Office of University Communications.

STORRS, Conn. -- One of the newest figures on the Asian-American literary scene, Cecilia Manguerra Brainard, will lecture and read from her books at 4:30 p.m., April 16, in the Asian American Cultural Center at the University of Connecticut.

Brainard, a writing instructor at the Writers Program at the University of California at Los Angeles Extension, will share her challenges as a Filipina American writer.

Until very recently it has been difficult for writers like myself who do not write about mainstream subject matters to find an outlet for our work, she said.

Brainard, whose latest book is Acapulco At Sunset and Other Stories, writes about the Filipino and Filipino American experiences. She first came to the United States as a graduate student at UCLA in 1969. While fiddling with creative writing throughout her life, it was not until 1981 when she was pregnant with her third son that she began taking several writing classes.

Once her youngest son was in nursery school, Brainard decided to pursue writing as a full-time career. Before making writing my career it had been an avocation but now it has become a vocation, she said. I have set mental deadlines; I produced because I had committed myself to writing.

With her new-found commitment, Brainard wrote her first two books, Woman With Horns and Other Stories and Philippine Woman In America. Keeping herself busy, she also co-edited two children s books, Seven Stories From Seven Sisters and The Beginning And Other Asian Folktales.

The last two books were the handiwork of the Philippine American Women Writers and Artists, a group she and six other women formed in 1991 to bring together Filipina artists and writers.

It was not until 1994 that Brainard hit the national spotlight. Her novel When The Rainbow Goddess Wept, published by E.P. Dutton in New York, earned her critical acclaim. The book was inspired by the stories of her mother and father, who were guerrilleros and survivors of World War II. The focus is on an upper-middle class family torn from their comfortable lives, and readers will witness the changes, tragedies and horror that war brings through the eyes of Yvonne, a pampered 9-year-old at the beginning of the novel who becomes a mature 12-year-old survivor telling her people s story at the end.

It s not easy for an adult to write about the world as observed through the eyes of a young girl, but Brainard succeeds superbly, said Ingrid Reti, a freelance book reviewer.

Brainard's talk, sponsored by the Asian-American Studies Institute, the Asian-American Cultural Center, the Department of English and Women s Studies, is free and open to the public.

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