Written by Ti-han Chang. At the crossroad of the 21st century, we see the rise of a new transition in Taiwanese literature. In the era of anthropogenic climate change, environmental literature or ecocriticism, which was first established in the Anglophone literature begins to sow its seeds in Taiwan in the late 80s and early 90s. Alongside this new transition, aboriginal literature in Taiwan also underwent a phase of cultural renaissance in the same period. Work published by Syaman Rapongan 夏曼藍波安, Walis Nokan瓦歷斯諾幹, and Topas Tamapima 拓拔斯塔瑪匹瑪 (田雅各) enrich and diversify the literary scene in Taiwan. The work of Rapongan, which promotes sea-writing and oceanic cultural imaginary, deserves, especially our attention.
Written by Sandrine Marchand. In Taiwan, 1945 marks the end of the Japanese colonisation. For many Taiwanese intellectuals and writers, it also means the abandonment of the Japanese language for Mandarin. But a language cannot be erased as quickly as architecture or other material goods. The language of childhood – the language of education – stubbornly persists. After this initial silent period, in the 1970’s – thanks to the Nativist movement – there has been a revaluation of pre-war Taiwanese writers gathered under the appellation of “a translingual generation” as they emerged from the shadows.
Written by Natasha Heller. Rising global temperature increases and predictions about sea levels can be abstract, even for adults. How can the phenomena of global warming be visualized? How can climate change and environmental degradation be made understandable by young children? The earth’s round shape, as imagined from space, lends itself to the addition of eyes and a mouth to convey unhappiness or illness on a global level. Distressed or lonely polar bears also convey the negative effects of global warming but are still quite distant from most children’s everyday lives.
Written by Ta-Wei Chi. As a researcher of Taiwanese queer literature, I have found intersectionality between the queer and the disabled in literature since the late 1960s. Commonly lauded as the most influential gay text in the Chinese-speaking world, Hsien-yung Pai (1937-)’s Crystal Boys (serialised since 1978, published as a novel in 1983) mentions how a couple of sugar daddies take home the hunks with developmental disabilities as their intimate partners. Pai’s 1969 story, “A Sky Full of Bright, Twinkling Stars,” typically considered a prequel to Crystal Boys, tells how both the youthful male prostitutes and their senior patrons are made disabled once they are arrested and tortured by police.
Written by Fang Tang. The word ‘diaspora’ derives from the Greek – dia, ‘through’, and speirein, ‘to scatter’， and was used to refer to the exile of the Jewish people from their homeland, the historic Israel. William Safran extends this concept in modern society to encompass a feeling of alienation, a nostalgic longing for the homeland and the self-consciousness act of defining one’s ethnicity. Over the past several decades, Chinese diasporic literature has generally been concerned with the motifs of nostalgia, homesickness, cultural identity and a sense of belonging.
Written by Ti-Han Chang. Many more can be said on the comparative study of these two novels, yet what is important here is to highlight what sort of future prospect that one can further expect from the development of Taiwanese postcolonial literature as well as its significance in “worlding” Taiwanese literature as a whole. An emerging feature that may potentially be established into a kind of “new traditions” for Taiwanese postcolonial literature is the sparks that come out from its cross-disciplinary reference to environmental literature.
Written by Mary Wang. Reading Nobel Prize winner Albert Camus’ canonical novel, The Plague at the time of the COVID-19 pandemic outbreak led me to meditate on Taiwan’s current situation and the possibilities for its future. As the COVID-19 crisis has been unfolding, paralysing the whole globe, I found that Camus’ novel allows for meaningful comparison between the situation described in Camus’ short novel and the experience of Taiwan as an estranged member of the international community.
Written by Shang Haifeng.
This venerable and influential company began releasing publications on Buddhism as part of its “Series of Annotated Modern Translations of [Chinese] Classics” (古籍今注新譯叢書) as early as the 1960’s. This was at the same time that China’s heritage – and its religious heritage in particular – was suffering sustained attacks during the Cultural Revolution.
Written by Ti-Han Chang. From a global perspective, today’s Taiwan is known for its cultural and ethnic diversity, its complex political relationship with China, and its recent achievements in socio-political democratisation (for instance, the Sunflower student movement and the legalisation of same-sex marriage). Yet, not many people have come to know contemporary Taiwan through its postcolonial literature, which, for me, is an important field that foregrounds Taiwan’s significance in the geographical context of the Asia Pacific in modern time.
Written by Julian Chih-Wei yang. Chen Kuo-Cheng (陳國城) – better known by his nom de plume Wuhe (舞鶴, literally ‘Dancing Crane’) – is a Taiwanese novelist renowned for his experimental, modernist style. His magnus opus, ‘The Life That Remains’ (餘生/Yusheng – officially translated as the ‘Remains of Life’), comprises only one single paragraph that is over two hundred pages long.
Written by Makiko Mori. Wu Zhuoliu’s (1900–1976) Orphan of Asia is a renowned work of colonial Taiwanese literature. Surreptitiously written towards the end of Japan’s colonial rule in Taiwan (1895-1945), this semi-autobiographical novel bears a powerful witness to Taiwan’s deeply troubled, albeit legitimately modern, claim for the right to self-determination and self-representation.
Written by YU Nai-Hui. My PhD studies involved anthropological fieldwork in Japan focused on the social issues of Wansei 湾生, a Japanese term referring to Japanese born in Taiwan before 1945. The term Wansei became an overnight sensation in Taiwan following the release of the documentary film Wansei: Back Home (2015).