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Polotan, Kerima. THE HAND OF THE ENEMY. Manila, Philippines: Regal Books/Erewhon Bookshop Distributors, 1962. Hardcover. First Edition/First Printing. 120 pages. Fine/Fine. Closed and open tears on DJ. Slight fading on DJ spine.

The author's debut novel. One of the greatest novels of the 20th century. The First Edition. Precedes and should not be confused with all other subsequent editions. Published in a very small and limited first print run as a hardcover original only. There is no ISBN. The First Edition is now very rare. Presents Kerima Polotan's first and only novel. It is important to keep in mind that at the time of its publication, the Philippines was one of the most prosperous nations in Asia, a vibrant democracy that enjoyed unprecedented economic growth, American financial largesse to its former colony and Workl War II ally, and an elite culture that encouraged Philippine writing in English. The external factors that help make a masterpiece possible cannot be overestimated precisely because the latter comes into being to challenge a modernizing nation's intrinsic soul. Once compared to Sartre (wrongly) and Heinrich Boll (rightly), Polotan is an original: Going against the Romantic grain, she wrote un-sentimentally, scathingly, and pitilessly about love, the impossible demands it makes on human beings, and its fundamental incompatibility not just with personal ambition but with the harsh realities of life. For Polotan, love is the sole reason for being. It's what we're here for. Its enemy, whose hand prevails in the end, is life itself. By all means, one should seize whatever saving grace life has to offer, be it the glory of literature; the pleasures of art; the consolation of religious faith; and most tangible of all, measurable, worldly success. Life is essentially a trade-off, and one must never ever have any illusions about the trade-offs one makes. Polotan saves her most withering words (in passages of great descriptive power) for those who think they can have it all. The bleakness of Polotan's vision is somewhat relieved by the generosity of her spirit. She cares about her characters, mourning rather than condemning their failings. Whereas almost everyone else writes in the "Creole" style (the flowery Philippine language infused with Spanish Baroque), her lean and elegant prose makes Polotan the greatest stylist in English the Philippines has ever produced. "Her searingly honest voice is without parallel. Like a diamond: Sharp, brilliant, cutting through the dross of hypocrisy. Tough exterior, generous heart" (Rowena Torrevillas). Polotan's tough-minded yet generous writing exposes the mediocrity of contemporary writing for what it is: Sterile prose, undergraduate philosophizing, Marvel Comics fantasy-narratives. "A man follows something more urgent than himself" (Kerima Polotan). Kerima Polotan died on August 19, 2011. She will not be replaced. An absolute "must-have" title for Kerima Polotan collectors. This title is a modern classic. As far as we know, this is the only copy of the First Edition/first Printing available online and despite its imperfection (closed and open tears on DJ; slight fading on DJ spine) is still in fine condition: Clean, crisp, and bright, a beauty. Copies that occasionally turn up online have sold for $1000. A rare copy thus. The greatest Philippine writer of the 20th century. A fine collectible copy. (SEE ALSO OTHER KERIMA POLOTAN TITLES IN OUR CATALOG). $500.00

This item is available for purchase. This web page was most recently updated on June 01, 2020.