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PHILIPPINES: The PEN community mourns the passing of writer Frankie Sionil José, founder of PEN Philippines and Vice President of PEN International

Friday 7 January 2022 - 5:22pm

Frankie Sionil Jose On Manila Congress | Photo Credit Olha Mukha

PEN International and the PEN community mourn the passing of Frankie Sionil José, writer, activist and Vice President of PEN International, on 6 January 2022.

José began his writing career as a journalist and edited various literary and journalistic publications, started a publishing house, and in 1957 founded the Philippine PEN Centre. His bookshop Solidaridad, was a hub for literary exchanges which welcomed some of the most prestigious writers of the 20th Century.

In a prolific writing career spanning seven decades, José penned more than a dozen novels, several short story collections, essays and a regular newspaper column. He addressed themes of class struggle and social injustice and reflected on the Philippines painful colonial past. His works were translated into 28 languages.

José received many awards including most recently the Cultural Center of the Philippines Centennial Award in 1999, the prestigious Chevalier dans l'Ordre des Arts et Lettres in 2000, and the Order of Sacred Treasure (Kun Santo Zuiho Sho) in 2001. In that same year, the Philippine government bestowed upon him the prestigious title of National Artist for Literature for his outstanding contributions to Philippine literature.

In 2019 José was elected Vice President of PEN International at the Annual PEN Congress in Manilla for services to literature.