Sa isang panayam kay Miguel Syjuco, na nanalo ng Grand Prize sa Palanca para sa nobela sa Ingles ngayong taon, ang nobela ring naghatid sa kaniya sa longlist ng Man Asian Literary Prize, nabanggit niya ang ilan sa mga hinahangaan niyang kakontemporanyo. Dahil nagmula sa Ateneo, halos puro Atenista ang nabanggit niya: DM Reyes, Rofel Brion, Clinton Palanca, Jodie Reyes. Nabanggit din ang Heights, kung saan umano unang nalathala ang kaniyang mga tula at maikling kuwento sa Ingles. At nang tanungin kung paano siya nagpasyang magsulat:
In my senior year at the Ateneo, I was an English Lit major. I wanted to be a literary critic, because I didn’t think I could write. For my thesis, I had a choice of either a scholarly thesis or a creative thesis. Being a lazy young man with delusions of entitlement and sheer talent, I tried to write a creative thesis by writing stories and poems. The poems were horrid. The stories were sufficient enough to be accepted into a workshop, though not enough to allow me permission to do a creative thesis.Tinawag niyang bullshit ang mga akda nina Paulo Coelho, Dan Brown at Khaled Hosseini.
Still, I’d experienced the white heat of writing and the fullness of completing a short story. The bug had bit me, and I’ve been writing ever since. Little by little my stories were published in national, respected publications. I was included in anthologies. So I thought I’d try for a master’s in creative writing in the US. I made my applications and my writing sample, and I sent it off, expecting to be soundly rejected. I even made a move toward taking up photography, because I didn’t think I’d make it as a writer. Lo and behold, I was accepted to Columbia University’s Creative Writing master’s program. It seems that I’ve fallen into writing by sheer accident and well-timed affirmation during my low moments of self doubt. It’s funny how that works.
Pero wala siyang binanggit na nagsusulat lang sa Filipino (o sige, bilingual sina Brion at Reyes), mabuti man o hindi ang kaniyang masasabi. Bahagi kaya sila (kami) ng kaniyang imahinasyon?