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From Barnes & NobleBarnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers
In the summer of 2001, Discover fans thrilled to Ghost Soldiers, Hampton Sides' gripping account of a U.S. mission to rescue American and British POWs behind enemy lines in the Philippines during World War II. Half a year later, Discover returns to the war-ravaged Philippines in the mystical and utterly enthralling novel When the Elephants Dance.
The title of the work comes from a remark recounted by Alejandro, a young Filipino boy and the first of several narrators in this richly imaginative book: "Papa explains the war like this," he says. "When the elephants dance, the chickens must be careful." Alejandro explains that the "chickens" are symbolic of the Filipinos, scratching out their means of survival while the hulking American and Japanese armies battle for control over the land, leaving many dead in their wake. As Alejandro and his brother forage for the family's sustenance, "the blue flies cover the bodies like death veils. They land on our faces bringing kisses from the dead. We swat them away quickly."
For all of its grittiness, When the Elephants Dance is also filled with hope and spirit. The characters who populate Alejandro's world -- his caring father, Carlito; his selfish neighbor, Aling Anna; and his family's quiet friend, Mang Ped -- tell each other stories from the past to illustrate the difficult life lessons they have learned. Inspired by the actual experiences of her Filipino father, in this first novelistic effort Tess Uriza Holthe has created a lyrical treasure about a people readers will never forget. (Winter 2002 Selection)