Text and photos by Dexter R. Matilla
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 22:05:00 10/25/2010
THE THREE young boys in Andy Mulligan’s young adult novel “Trash” (published by David Fickling Books of the UK) don’t need to be introduced as Filipinos. In fact, despite the repeated mention of Smoky Mountain in the narrative, Mulligan refuses to specifically state that the story is set in the Philippines, saying it could be anywhere in the world as poverty exists everywhere.
Mulligan, however, is quick to add that “Trash” is not so much a commentary on poverty as it is more of a fast-paced page-turner filled with mystery that begins after dumpsite friends Raphael, Gardo and Rat find a bag with a wallet, map of the city and a key.
The police arrive looking for the bag, with an offer to reward anyone who returns it with a large amount of cash. The kids, however, are not easily enticed by it and even become wary that the police may just run off with the bag.
When Rat recognizes the type of key that was in the bag, the kids’ curiosity gets the better of them and they soon find themselves trying to solve a mystery that shows just how far apart the rich and the poor are, effectively giving new meaning to the book’s title.
“‘Trash’ is not a work of great journalism,” said Mulligan, who teaches English and Drama at the British School Manila. “I didn’t write it with a particular audience in mind. I wrote it for myself hoping the readers would enjoy it as a thriller. I love fast-moving novels that keep you gripped and, as a teacher, I know what it’s like to teach boring books.”
“Trash” is now available in all National Book Store branches at 20-percent off for only P359.20 (market price is P449). (Follow National Book Store on Facebook and Twitter for exclusive offers and contests.)
Mulligan was brought up in Great Britain and worked as a theater director for a decade. He decided to become a teacher while traveling to Asia and has taught English and Drama in Great Britain, India, Brazil and the Philippines.