Annabelle Tometich in conversation Ligaya Figueras - The Mango Tree

Annabelle Tometich in conversation Ligaya Figueras - The Mango Tree

Saturday, May 04, 2024 3:00 PM

A Cappella Books
208 Haralson Avenue, NE
Atlanta, Georgia 30307

"'The Mango Tree' introduces us to a debut author ready to bend our understanding of Florida, Filipino American life, and motherhood. Witty, humorous, and heartfelt, Annabelle Tometich's unflinching memoir is a welcome and necessary addition to contemporary Asian-American literature. Tometich fills the need for a book that is so readable, so nuanced in its storytelling, and so forgiving in its portrayal of an overburdened, culturally isolated immigrant mother making a life for herself and children. Many times, I saw myself as the narrator and, more unexpectedly, as her mother. That's a sign to me of a book written with a keen eye and an open heart. This will be a gift to Filipinos and Filipino Americans everywhere." -- Cinelle Barnes, author of "Monsoon Mansion" and "Malaya: Essays on Freedom"

A Cappella Books is delighted to welcome author Annabelle Tometich to discuss her captivating debut, "The Mango Tree." Tometich will appear in conversation with AJC senior editor Ligaya Figueras.

This event is free and open to the public, and copies of "The Mango Tree" will be available for purchase.

About the Book

Rows of orange people sit handcuffed in a beige room. One of them is my mother.

When journalist Annabelle Tometich picks up the phone one June morning, she isn't expecting a collect call from an inmate at the Lee County Jail. And when she accepts, she certainly isn't prepared to hear her mother's voice on the other end of the line. However, explaining the situation to her younger siblings afterwards was easy; all she had to say was, "Mom shot at some guy. He was messing with her mangoes." They immediately understood. Answering the questions of the breaking-news reporter—at the same newspaper where Annabelle worked as a restaurant critic––proved more difficult. Annabelle decided to go with a variation of the truth: it was complicated. So begins The Mango Tree, a poignant and deceptively entertaining memoir of growing up as a mixed-race Filipina "nobody" in suburban Florida as Annabelle traces the roots of her upbringing—all the while reckoning with her erratic father's untimely death in a Fort Myers motel, her fiery mother's bitter yearning for the country she left behind, and her own journey in the pursuit of belonging. With clear-eyed compassion and piercing honesty, The Mango Tree is a family saga that navigates the tangled branches of Annabelle's life, from her childhood days in an overflowing house flooded by balikbayan boxes, vegetation, and juicy mangoes, to her winding path from medical school hopeful to restaurant critic. It is a love letter to her fellow Filipino Americans, her lost younger self, and the beloved fruit tree at the heart of her family. But above all, it is an ode to Annabelle's hot-blooded, whip-smart mother Josefina, a woman who made a life and a home of her own, and without whom Annabelle would not have herself.

About the Author

Annabelle Tometich went from medical-school flunky to line cook to journalist to author. She spent eighteen years as a food writer, editor, and restaurant critic for The News-Press in her hometown of Fort Myers, Florida. Her writing has appeared in the Washington Post, USA Today, Catapult, the Tampa Bay Times, and many more publications. Tometich has won more than a dozen awards for her stories, including first place for Features Writing from the Florida Society of News Editors in 2020. She (still) lives in Fort Myers with her husband, two children, and her ever-fiery Filipina mother.

About the Conversation Partner

Ligaya Figueras is the AJC's senior editor for Food & Dining. Prior to joining the AJC in 2015, she was the executive editor for St. Louis-based culinary magazine Sauce. She has worked in the publishing industry since 1999 and holds degrees from St. Louis University and the University of Michigan.