Review: Huang Chun-ming’s Stories

Huang Chun-ming’s new book of short stories and vignettes, translated by Howard Goldblatt, fails to engage: Taipei Times

It would have been nice to have started the Year of the Horse by reviewing a Taiwan-related masterpiece. Unfortunately this collection of eight stories by Taiwan’s Huang Chun-ming (黃春明) doesn’t really come up to that standard. Why is that, and what makes for a great short-story?

It’s hard to argue a case for the shortcomings of this book because my benchmarks for stories of staggering brilliance are all by Western writers. I’ve never read an Asian story that bowled me over in the way that the best of Somerset Maugham or Paul Theroux have done. Is the problem the translation, or are the ideals of Asian authors, and consequently the ways they are judged, somehow different?

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