A Southeast Asian-language literary award helps promote diversity and cultural understanding.
On Aug. 30 last year, the halls of the National Taiwan Museum in Taipei were flooded by a sea of color and the sound of many languages speaking at once. The mood was light and the crowd diverse, with a variety of clothing on display, from the elegant, ankle-length ao dai of Vietnam to the Muslim hijab, which can take many forms but is often a headscarf or veil. The visitors to the museum had gathered to attend the second annual Taiwan Literature Award for Migrants. “Anyone who could utter a word of welcome in a Southeast Asian language—whether the Thai sawadee ka or the Indonesian apa kabar—was welcome to take part,” says Chang Cheng (張正), organizer of the award and co-founder of Brilliant Time, a bookstore in New Taipei City that focuses on Southeast Asian-language publications.