Art by Carlo Carpena
EDGAR CALABIA SAMAR is a Filipino author of several award-winning works. His first novel, Walong Diwata ng Pagkahulog, received the 2005 NCCA Writer’s Prize, and its English translation Eight Muses of the Fall (translated by Mikael de Lara Co and Sasha Martinez) was longlisted to the 2009 Man Asian Literary Prize. Three of his other novels, including Sa Kasunod ng 909, received the Philippine National Book Awards (NBA) for Best Novel in a Philippine Language in 2013, 2015, and 2016. He also received the NBA for Best Criticism for his Halos Isang Buhay: Ang Manananggal sa Pagsusulat ng Nobela in 2013. His poetry book Pag-aabang sa Kundiman: Isang Tulambuhay and his short story collection Alternatibo sa Alternatibong Mundo: 13 Metakuwento/Malakuwento were both finalists for the NBA in 2013 and 2017, respectively.
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Aside from winning the NBA, two books in his best-selling YA series Janus Silang also received the Philippine National Children’s Book Award (NCBA) for Best Read for Kids in 2016 and 2018. The graphic novel version of the first book was released in 2015, adapted by Carljoe Javier and illustrated by Natasha Ringor. The second book is currently being adapted to komiks by Mervin Malonzo, creator of Tabi Po series. The first two books were also adapted into play by award-winning playwright Guelan Luarca and staged by Tanghalang Ateneo in 2016 and 2017. In 2018, ABS-CBN bought the TV adaptation rights to the whole series.
“It takes more than just talent and grit to weave a tale of fantasy, to build new worlds, and recreate our reality into something totally different without losing the reader’s sense of what is familiar. … Samar made sure the act of reading Janus Sílang is an adventure.” ––2015 NATIONAL BOOK AWARD CITATION
Samar has also received prizes for his poetry, essay, children’s story, and short fiction from the Palanca Awards, the PBBY-Salanga Writer’s Prize, the Gawad Komisyon sa Tula, and Gantimpalang Collantes. In 2010, he was invited as writer-in-residence to the International Writing Program of the University of Iowa in the United States; and in 2017, as guest author to the Sharjah International Book Fair in the United Arab Emirates.
His high fantasy novel Kasaysayan ng Kalibutan is now being serialized in Liwayway Magazine, the oldest Filipino magazine in the Philippines. In 2013, he founded and edited Tapat: Journal ng Bagong Nobelang Filipino, where he published novels by Alvin Yapan (Sambahin ang Katawan), German V. Gervacio (Hari Manawari), Mayette Bayuga (Ang Templo ni Tamilah and Halinghing sa Hatinggabi), and Khavn de la Cruz (Himagsik ng mga Puno).
“[Janus Silang] is a captivating tale of a young boy’s courage amidst the enveloping darkness in his life. … This book takes us on a rollercoaster ride full of adventure, suspense, and danger. … Finally, a hero like Janus Silang claims his space in our imagination.” ––2016 NATIONAL CHILDREN’S BOOK AWARD CITATION
When he was in high school, Samar wrote regular columns for Barkada! Newsmagazine, The Wednesday Herald, and The Southern Tagalog Herald, after his win in the National Schools Press Conference held in Tangub City. In college, he became a member of Heights and Matanglawin in Ateneo, where he was awarded the Dean’s Award for the Arts when he graduated in 2002 with an AB Psychology degree. Early in his writing life, he attended several writing workshops as fellow, among them 5th Ateneo-Heights Writers Workshop in 1999, 1st UST National Writers Workshop in 2000, 38th UP National Writers Workshop in 2001, IYAS-La Salle National Writers Workshop in 2004, and finally, the 46th UP National Writers Workshop in 2007 as supposedly a writer in his “mid-career.” He also attended the Linangan sa Imahen, Retorika, at Anyo (LIRA) workshops in 2001 and became its president from 2002–2003.
Later, Samar began sitting as panelist to workshops by Heights in Ateneo, Malate in La Salle, and The Varsitarian in UST. He also served as Heights moderator for several years and directed the Ateneo National Workshops twice before he served as director of Ateneo Institute of Literary Arts and Practices (AILAP) in 2010–2013. He also served as judge to several national literary competitions, including the Palanca.
He received his Masters in Literature (Filipino) from Ateneo de Manila University, and his PhD in Malikhaing Pagsulat (Creative Writing) from University of the Philippines Diliman where he was awarded the Gawad Antonio Abad for Best Dissertation in 2011. He is currently an associate professor in Ateneo de Manila University and also a specially-appointed associate professor at Osaka University. He has delivered lectures on literature, language, and pop culture all over the Philippines and in other countries such as the United States, China, Thailand, United Arab Emirates, Japan, and the United Kingdom.
Samar was born and raised in San Pablo City where he was awarded as an Outstanding San Pableño in 2016. San Pablo, of course, is the main setting in all his works, even those that are not set in what we imagine as our world.