The Intertextuality of Triumphant Diasporic Return: Reading the Novels of R. Zamora Linmark

In: Filipino American Transnational Activism


This chapter begins with and builds upon American studies scholar Eric Estuar Reyes and his analysis of Rolling the R’s by R. Zamora Linmark to address developmentalism in Filipino American subject formation. It also examines developmentalism in the space and production of diaspora and Filipino American diasporic subjectivity. To extend Reyes’s analysis of Linmark’s commentary to the Filipino diaspora, the chapter reads Linmark’s second novel, Leche, in relation to Rolling the R’s. Less raucously funny than its predecessor, Leche is equally unrelenting and biting in its social and cultural commentary. The protagonist of Leche, Vicente De Los Reyes, was first introduced to readers as one of the pop-culture-loving Filipino youth in Rolling the R’s. As a boy having recently arrived in Honolulu from the Philippines, he was “Vicente” in Rolling the R’s. The time of Leche is 1991. Vicente is now “Vince,” a twenty-three-year-old college graduate, making his first return trip to the Philippines since he left in 1978 at age ten, when he and his siblings were sent to join their parents, who had been living and working in Honolulu since 1972. His is no simple homeland return, however. Through Vince’s entanglement of memories, dreams, and nightmares, Linmark reveals the anxieties of diasporic return, using multiple and simultaneous points of arrival and departure to call into question the categorical fixity and disconnection of migration and settlement. The chapter takes up an intertextual reading of the two novels to explore their broader resonance to diasporic developmentalism, which relies on an historical disconnect among these categories.