‘‘Immigration Blues,’’ by Filipino American writer Bienvenido Santos, won the award for fiction from New Letters in 1977 (an award that includes publication of the work as part of the prize) and is available in his short-story collection Scent of Apples (Seattle and London, 1979). Santos writes frequently of the Filipino experience in America, which is the subject of ‘‘Immigration Blues.’’
The story is a poignant study in the loneliness and sense of exile that have often been a part of the Filipino experience in the United States from the end of World War II through the 1970s, when the story was written. ‘‘Immigration Blues’’ also reveals the fact that many Filipinos desperately wanted to come to the United States and remain there, in spite of the difficulties. As the story relates, many Filipino women were prepared to do almost anything to achieve their goal of living in America.
‘‘Immigration Blues’’ is written in a simple style that belies the emotional subtlety it conveys. It was awarded the fiction award from New Letters and shows Santos’s art at its finest.