“In the Service of Secrets is the Filipino anglophone novel that we’ve all eagerly anticipated, because in its unapologetic adherence to the conventions of a soap opera, it approaches, quite uncannily, both the actual and the imagined in Filipinos’s unwittingly melodramatic lives. After all, while we can argue endlessly about the validity of this or that representation of Filipino culture, what’s inarguable is that, nowadays, in most Filipino homes, the soap opera (more accurately, the telenovela) has come to occupy such a centrally crucial space that domestic arrangements are practically organized around the schedules of these favorite and all-important mass media texts, which may be said to possess a symbolic presence—and efficaciousness—that renders them, ironically, real…”- Judge, Palanca Awards in his decision to award the award the 2011 Palanca Awards Grand Prize for the Novel to In The Service of Secrets, later re-titled The Mango Bride. The Carlos Palanca Memorial Awards for Literature is oldest literary competition in the Philippines, and is that country’s equivalent of the Pulitzer Prize.
“The Mango Bride (Penguin NAL, May 2013) is a brilliant depiction of gender and immigration issues, bound in the restrictions of family and class…Soliven has written something more than a multigenerational family drama. She has incorporated compelling issues that humanize current news headlines as they help create vital characters. Immigration, gender and prejudice, class conflict, domestic violence—particularly its devastating effects on immigrants without U.S. citizenship—and the definition of family all drive the novel’s plot and the characters’ resolutions, both sorrowful and hopeful.”
“This is a refreshing approach to tell a story that highlights old issues that many have written about before but are still very much relevant today, like poverty and the vast difference between societal classes in the Philippines, the mail-order bride trade and the exploitation of women, the immigrant experience, the plight of war veterans, and even how we, as a culture, deal with secrets and shame and family values.”
Feathered Quill Reviews:
“…Marivi Soliven’s first novel is the essence of a natural tone and flow that makes me think if her novel were a song, it would be pitch perfect. This author portrays great devotion toward developing and delivering vibrant, credible characters. They are further enhanced and complemented with Ms. Soliven’s wonderfully descriptive quality and obvious knowledge of Manila’s culture and ambiance. She entices the reader throughout The Mango Bride with local information as she treats the reader to native language and deliciously descriptive cuisine in many scenes. Nowhere does this story drag. There is an element of inevitability with the ending, but it is delivered in a tender and bittersweet manner. Congratulations on your body of work Ms. Soliven—a most enjoyable read.”
Veronika Lynch ’19