Wednesday, November 16, 2022

6 Books with Victor Manibo

By Sean Collishaw

 Victor Manibo is a Filipino speculative fiction writer living in New York. As a queer immigrant and a person of color, he writes about people who live these identities and how they navigate imaginary worlds. He is a 2022 Lambda Literary Emerging Voices Fellow, and his debut science fiction noir novel, THE SLEEPLESS, came out in August 2022 from Erewhon Books. Find him online at or on Twitter @victormanibo.

Today he tells us about his Six Books:

1. What book are you currently reading?
Lone Women by Victor LaValle. I was lucky enough to be given an advance reader copy (ARC) of this one, and as soon as I got it, I jumped right in. I had heard Mr. LaValle read its opening chapter at a KGB Fantastic Fiction event a few months back, and ever since then, I couldn’t get it out of my mind. It’s the story of Adelaide Henry, a black woman fleeing a dark past to be a pioneer homesteader in 1910s Montana, carrying with her only a single traveling bag and a mysterious steamer trunk. All throughout my read, I kept yelling, “What’s in the trunk?” all Seven-style, because Mr. LaValle is so adept at layering complex characterization and a strong sense of place with ever-escalating tension. All that with the incisive social commentary, sharp attention to historical detail, and gorgeous prose–what more could I ask for?


2. What upcoming book are you really excited about?
Liberation Day by George Saunders. I have been waiting such a long time to get my hands on this, and luckily I only have a few more days to go. His Tenth of December was a real eye-opener for me on how a short story can portray the human experience with ferocity and tenderness, and I fully expect this new collection to do just that and more.


3. Is there a book you’re currently itching to re-read?

Interview with the Vampire by Anne Rice. That book was an awakening of sorts for me; I read it in high school and I immediately imprinted on it. It’s so lush and had such a grand scope, and of course, I could not get enough of Lestat de Lioncourt. He is such an unforgettable character. I haven’t re-read it in the last twenty years, and I really never had the inclination to until the TV adaptation premiered in early October. The show altered much of the source material, and it made me wonder how well or how poorly the book has aged. I wondered too how my recollection and attachment to it would change, reading it now not only as an adult, but as someone who writes speculative fiction. So now the book is near the top of my TBR list.

4. How about a book you’ve changed your mind about – either positively or negatively?

Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf. I first attempted it in college (not as required reading), and at the time it was impenetrable to me. I simply could not get it. The postmodernist style was not something I had a lot of exposure in, and despite some affecting moments of pathos, the story felt disjointed. So I never finished it. Fast forward about a decade and a half later, I read Michael Cunningham’s The Hours and absolutely loved it. Yet I felt I missed a lot of its layers because I skipped Mrs. Dalloway, so I revisited it. And wow, the re-read was a whole different experience. I’d become a different person, a different reader, since I last opened its pages, and this time I got it.


5. What’s one book, which you read as a child or a young adult, that has had a lasting influence on your writing?

All of Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes stories were a huge influence on me. I started reading the novels and shorts when I was around nine, which might seem a tad young, but my parents didn’t mind. I was really taken in by the time period, the interplay between Holmes and Watson, and of course, the puzzle aspect of it all. I wanted to figure out the solution before I got to the end, and when I didn’t (which was often), I would reread the stories to see what I missed. That reverse engineering is something that I still do to this day, in the stories that I craft. My debut and upcoming novel are both mysteries, and I probably wouldn’t have written them if it wasn’t for Sherlock.


6. And speaking of that, what’s your latest book, and why is it awesome?

The Sleepless is a near-future sci-fi noir mystery/thriller and I think it’s awesome because it is such a multi-hypenate. It's a what-if thought experiment about a world where some part of the population does not require any sleep without experiencing any physical or mental drawbacks, and it is also a locked-room murder mystery, and also an exploration of grief, memory, and time. It straddles the line between genres and styles, and weaves many of the literary elements that I find thoroughly fun to read and even more fun to write. 

Thank you, Victor!

POSTED BY: Paul Weimer. Ubiquitous in Shadow, but I’m just this guy, you know? @princejvstin.