Bienvenido N. Santos' own life reads like a novel. Born in Manila and raised in the Philippines, where he is also highly regarded, Mr. Santos was to spend half his adult life in America. Largely as a result of historical circumstances, he became an American citizen in 1976. Exiled once by war, and exiled again for his political perspective, Mr. Santos found refuge in the USA.

Mr. Santos first left the Philippines after earning a BA (Bachelor of Arts degree) from the University of the Philippines in 1932. He came to the USA during the years to study at the University of Illinois and Harvard. Because of the Japanese invasion of his homeland, however, he was called to service at the Philippine Embassy in Washington, D.C., where he served as a public information officer.

Several of his stories reflect the lives of young Filipinos living in exile in the USA during World War II, all with tragic stories to tell about families or loved ones back home, all seeking comradeship and comfort from their fellow countrymen and American friends, and all with about what will happen to them and their country once the war ends. "The Scent of Apples" is a collection of stories that focuses on this period and on the lives of several Filipinos in exile. "Immigration Blues" comes from this collection, but is distinguished by being from the most recent period in time. Also recommended from this collection, for people interested in reading more of his work, is "Hurt Men." In this story, a group of Filipinos in exile gather to play a game of poker. In the course of the story we learn that each of the players has suffered some tragedy as a result of the war.
Mr. Santos himself returned to the Philippines after the war years and quickly gained recognition as a writer of . Ironically, his novel, A Praying Man, serialized in the magazine "Solidaridad" so offended the government of Ferdinand Marcos that he was forced into exile again and returned to the USA. What so offended the Marcos government was apparently Mr. Santos' sympathetic and frank description of the lives of poor Filipinos.

In the USA, he continued his literary , and sustained himself and his family by teaching in American colleges. Before his death in 1996, his last position was at Wichita State College in Wichita, Kansas.

Besides "The Scent of Apples" and "A Praying Man", Santos authored the story collections "You Lovely People" and "The Day the Dancers Came". His novels include "Villa Magdelena", "The Man Who (Thought He) Looked Like Robert Taylor", and "What the Hell For You Left Your Heart in San Francisco". He also write the poetry collections "The Wounded Stag" and "Distances in Time" and an autobiography. He won several literary awards both in the Philippines and in the USA. In America, he was awarded an American Book Award, a Guggenheim Fellowship, and a National Endowment for the Arts award. He received the Philippines highest artistic award, The Cultural Heritage Award and in 1992 De La Salle University, Manila named a writing center in his honor.

Perhaps the most surprising thing about Mr. Santos writing, given his personal history and the histories of both his native and adopted countries during his lifetime, is his enduring gentleness and humanity. A writer of political commitment, his novels and stories are nevertheless about people rather than ideas, and express far more caring concern than outrage. His stories are always gracefully told in a prose that moves unobtrusively from to the colloquial to the eloquent. His themes are large—displacement, exile, identity, desperation, guilt—but always derive organically from the lives of the characters in his fiction and their very real experiences. And somehow, though his characters may suffer and fate or others may be cruel and full of , Mr. Santos maintains a saving sense of humor. Without ever falling into the excesses of sentimentality or nostalgia, his stories are always anchored in a love for the people he writes about.

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••• Contents ••• Title page ••• The author ••• Pre-story ••• In-story ••• Exercises ••• Follow-up•••