H. Arlo Nimmo

Cultural anthropologist

The Songs of Salanda and Other Stories of Sulu

The Songs of Salanda and Other Stories of Sulu. 1994. Seattle: University of Washington Press.

The Songs of Salanda and Other Stories of SuluThis collection of sixteen short stories is H. Arlo Nimmo’s personal exploration of his anthropological fieldwork among the nomadic boat-dwelling Bajau (aka Sama Dilaut) of the southern Philippines. Inspired by people, places and events he encountered, the stories include a misanthropic Chinese fish-buyer, a brother and sister who sell sexual favors to save the family business, an imprisoned young man believed to be possessed by demons, an American GI who senses his impending death in the battlefields of Vietnam, and a Muslim pirate rebelling against the Christian Philippine government.

ISBN: 0295973358, 237 pages.

Winner of 1994 Philippines National Book Award for Social Sciences.

Awarded 1994 Certificate of Merit “in recognition of excellence in concept, design and manufacturing” by Bookbuilders West.

The Songs of Salanda has a Philippine English-language edition as well as editions in Japanese and Malay.

“Aside from being well written, engaging and entertaining, this book is an important chronicle of a time and place that are gone forever.” The Guardsman

“Nimmo’s language is honestly crafted, and as the book progresses, the writing becomes more poetic . . . A fascinating journey to another culture, place, and time.” Kirkus Reviews

“This is a fascinating book and a very enjoyable read . . . The book’s narrative style is marked by a very spare, concise prose that in its neatness, and relative lack of complex literary narrative convention, conveys the impression of a personable but rather detached narrator.” Pacific Affairs

The Songs of Salanda [is] drawn on images summoned deep from the well of memory . . . In his book [Nimmo] sheds the constraints of academic writing to offer colorful vignettes of life at the edge of perpetual summer.   While Mr. Nimmo’s ingenuous prose can be workmanlike, its lucid candor creates the spell he desires.” The New York Times

The Songs of Salanda is an exceptional book for Philippine studies and a uniquely successful work of ethnographic fiction . . . [W]hether judged by the standards of cultural anthropology or by those of literature, this is a remarkable and admirable book. The prose throughout is concise, unpretentious, and frequently brilliant in its descriptive effects. The text achieves a narrative realism that would spark the envy of the best interpretive ethnographer.” Pilipinas

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