Michellan Sarile-Alagao’s training in criminology and literature is evident in the narrator of the verse-novella Black, who is hired by the scion L. to craft a black-out “press release” for general consumption, after getting the alibis of each of the characters implicated in the death of the 68-year old family patriarch. Alagao’s hired investigator-spinner begins with the judgement that the rich brazenly lie through their teeth, and knows that lies can be constructed into a story that everyone would believe. This narrator-protagonist not only lays out for us the five different kinds of questions (and its limits) to get to the truth. As a liminal figure in this family — “set designer, assistant storyteller” — the narrator also delivers a satirical social critique of the oligarchy in the country — old rich families who act as though they were beyond the law, and who would do anything, even murder, to maintain their wealth and power among their ilk.
Dr. Marjorie Evasco
Professor Emeritus of Literature, De La Salle University, Manila