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Dovelion: A Fairy Tale for Our Times

ISBN: 9781939901194
Binding: Paperback
Author: Eileen R. Tabios
Pages: 320
Trim: 9 x 12 inches
Published: 03/01/2021

From multi-awarded poet, writer, artist, and editor Eileen R. Tabios comes a first novel, DOVELION: A FAIRY TALE FOR OUR TIMES. In this inventive myth that straddles the binary of traditional narrative and experimental fiction, poet Elena Theeland overcomes the trauma of her past to raise a family who would overthrow the dictatorship in Pacifica. She is aided by artist Ernst Blazer whose father, a CIA spy, instigated the murder of Elena's father, a rebel leader. As her family frees Pacifica from the dictator's dynastic regime, Elena discovers herself a member of an indigenous tribe once thought to be erased through genocide. The discovery reveals her life to epitomize the birth of a modern-day "Baybay" in the tradition of Pacifica's indigenous spiritual and community leaders. Unfolding through lyrical and spare vignettes, DOVELION presents the effects of colonialism and empire, while incorporating meditations on poetry, art, orphanhood, and indigenous values. Glimpses are provided of spy warfare, internet-based rebellions, and the insidious effects of beauty pageants. Relief is provided through Elena's love of Wikipedia and the world's most simple but delicious recipe for adobo. Ultimately, DOVELION and Elena's story bespeaks the unavoidable nature of humanity: a prevailing interconnection that can cancel past, present, and future into a singular Now.


Eileen R. Tabios loves books and has released over 70 collections of poetry, fiction, essays, and experimental biographies from publishers in 11 countries and cyberspace. Publications include the long-form novel DoveLion: A Fairy Tale for Our Times; the form-based Selected Poems, The In(ter)vention of the Hay(na)ku: Selected Tercets (1996-2019), THE GREAT AMERICAN NOVEL: Selected Visual Poetry (2001-2019), INVENT(ST)ORY: Selected Catalog Poems & New (1996-2015), and THE THORN ROSARY: Selected Prose Poems & New (1998-2010); the first book-length haybun collection, 147 MILLION ORPHANS (MMXI-MML); a collection of 7-chapter novels, SILK EGG; an experimental autobiography AGAINST MISANTHROPY; as well as two books translated into French and three bilingual and one trilingual editions involving English, Spanish, Thai, and Romanian. Her award-winning body of work includes invention of the hay(na)ku poetic form as well as a first poetry book, Beyond Life Sentences (1998), which received the Philippines' National Book Award for Poetry (Manila Critics Circle). Her poems have been translated into 11 languages as well as computer-generated hybrid languages, paintings, video, drawings, visual poetry, mixed media collages, Kali martial arts, music, modern dance, sculpture and a sweat shirt. Additionally, she has edited, co-edited or conceptualized 15 anthologies of poetry, fiction and essays as well as exhibited visual art and visual poetry in the United States and Asia.


"… the narrative is a work of Indigenous futurism as it shifts among strands of transcolonial experience. 'Transcolonial,' not postcolonial, is the better term to describe the book's political critique, to suggest how imperial powers have dominated Indigenous peoples like those of the Philippines and how their influence continues and will continue in myriad guises globally. The author is simultaneously a rebel against erasure of Indigenous sovereignty and a visionary who offers new expressions of cultural traditions and personal wholeness. Indigenous futurisms writers generate literary and other artifacts that revise western European literatures. With her textual inventions, Tabios disrupts the expectations of English-language genres. Poetry, geography, political science, dialogue, prose poetry, culinary arts, visual art critique—all wend their way through the sequential and gradual unmasking of the characters in Dovelion." - Denise Low

"Erotically charged and intellectual, entertaining, always surprising, this virtuoso novel seduces with its layers, its characters, and its wide-ranging reflections on art, poetry, history, politics, and desire. The story circles around Elena, orphaned as a child in (the fictional country of) Pacifica and sent to live in the United States, where, as a young woman, she repeatedly seeks out a stranger for domination/submission encounters. What secrets about her country and herself is she trying to uncover, and how are they linked to Ernst, her nonbinary lover? How does her story — and that of her father, her mother, her daughter and grandsons — reflect and change the history of her homeland? The novel is structured like indigenous myth, where past, present and future do not exist, and where everything is present at once and connected to each other: fairy tales, the struggle against a dictator, poetics, colonialism, motherhood, gender identity, sexual passion, romantic love, and even a recipe for adobo. Eileen R. Tabios uses her pen like Elena uses her whip, provoking tenderness through intense sensation as well as illumination through sensuality and a passionate, hungry mind." - Reine Arcache Melvin

"DOVELION: A Fairy Tale for Our Times is Eileen R. Tabios' mythic imagination enlivened! History marks bodies and cultures, making up stories deemed worthy and purposeful by the powerful until the Storyteller/Poet reveals the secrets and shadows lurking beneath power's machinations. The figure of an indigenous community and spiritual leader known as 'Baybay'—inspired by the Philippine Babaylan—emerges as the Medicine that calms the heart's longings and reweaves the fragments of diasporic displacements. Eileen R. Tabios welcomes us into the world of 'Kapwa-time' where the past, present, and future comingle and entangle with our own capacity to believe in the potency of myth-telling. Kapwa-time and mythic imagination form a descent into the underworld, or a psychic and archeological exploration into the subconscious; it's notable that the indigenous Filipino concept of 'Loob' has internal and external dimensions. If this descent is done well and blessed by the deities, it becomes manifest in the Beauty of the novel's form—such is Eileen R. Tabios' accomplishment with DOVELION. As a reader going deep into Kapwa-time, I find my inner compass and this compass floods my life like the light of a thousand suns." - Leny Mendoza Strobel