by Dan Bloom

IMG_0516

Taiwan sits on a piece of colourful and multi-splendoured island real estate, south of Japan and east of Hong Kong and China. As an independent, sovereign nation since 1945, it has produced its share of Asian literature since the beginning of the Japanese Colonial Period (1895-1945) to the present. In this brief essay, I want to introduce two Taiwanese writers; one a novelist with an international reputation, Wu Ming-yi, who writes in Chinese, and the other a short story writer based in Taipei, Jane Wu, who writes in English and has recently published a collection of nine stories about the martial law period of Taiwan history (1949 to 1987).

Nature writer and university professor Wu Ming-yi  (吳明益) wrote a popular novel titled The Man with the Compound Eyes in 2011, with translations in English and French following in 2013 and 2014. Largely ignored at first for the novel that was published in Chinese, Wu’s eco-fantasy later  attracted attention overseas in translated editions, thanks for the eagle eye and savvy marketing skills of Taipei-based literary agent Gray Tan, who took Wu under his wing and introduced the novel to agents and publishers in Europe and America.

Advertisements

manwithcompoundeyesTaiwanese author Wu Ming-Yi echoes David Mitchell as hard-edged realism meets extravagant fantasy, writes Tash Aw in The Guardian

What do you expect when you pick up a novel – very probably your first – from Taiwan? A spiky assertion of independence, perhaps, or wistful, Japanese-inspired fables? The literary landscape of mainland China has begun to take shape for western readers, but that of Taiwan remains a blank – despite the island’s sophisticated and long-established publishing industry. The English translation of Wu Ming-Yi’s intriguing fourth work of fiction simultaneously plunges the reader into the melting pot of contemporary Taiwanese fiction and refuses any attempt to define it.