Who Writes Carlos Bulosan?

  • Charlie Samuya Veric


The importance of Carlos Bulosan in Filipino and Filipino-American radical history and literature is indisputable. His eminence spans the pacific, and he is known, diversely, as a radical poet, fictionist, novelist, and labor organizer. Author of the canonical America Iis the Hearts, Bulosan is celebrated for chronicling the conditions in America in his time, such as racism and unemployment. In the history of criticism on Bulosan's life and work, however, there is an undeclared general consensus that views Bulosan and his work as coherent permanent texts of radicalism and anti-imperialism. Central to the existence of such a tradition of critical reception are the generations of critics who, in more ways than one, control the discourse on and of Carlos Bulosan. This essay inquires into the sphere of the critical reception that orders, for our time and for the time ahead, the reading and interpretation of Bulosan. What eye and seeing, the essay asks, determine the perception of Bulosan as the angel of radicalism? What is obscured in constructing Bulosan as an immutable figure of the political? What light does the reader conceive when the personal is brought into the open and situated against the political? the essay explores the answers to these questions in Bulosan's loving letters to various friends, strangers, and white American women. The presence of these interrogations, the essay believes, will secure ultimately the continuing importance of Carlos Bulosan to radical literature and history.