Ye Chun’s new collection of short stories, Hao, mainly centers on the experience of Chinese women, both in China and in the United States. Hao, or “good” in Chinese, is the somewhat ironic theme that connects many of the stories, where women have decidedly not-good situations and explore the irony of their circumstances.
“The Three Women of Chuck’s Donuts” was published in The New Yorker in early 2020, generating great interest for Anthony Veasna So’s forthcoming collection of stories, Afterparties. But months before his book came out, So died suddenly from an overdose. “The Three Women of Chuck’s Donuts” kicks off this collection and tries to answer a question that runs throughout the book, namely “what does it mean to be Khmer, anyway?”
“Violence composes a fundament of modern Taiwan history,” opens Ian Rowen’s introduction to Transitions in Taiwan: Stories of the White Terror. In the almost forty years during which Taiwan’s authoritarian ruling party, the Kuomintang (KMT), kept the country under martial law and suppressed any form of political dissent, thousands of citizens—including alleged proponents of Taiwan’s independence from China or presumed communist collaborators—were abducted, imprisoned, or executed. This violence has undoubtedly left a scar on a generation of Taiwanese, and the stories that make up this volume, penned by some of Taiwan’s most notable writers, explore the mechanisms of power during that painful—and indeed violent—time. There isn’t however much gore or literal brutality in these stories, which rather reconfigure the violent trauma of history in its most subtle, almost mundane, aspects, displaying how authoritarian power effectively manages to infiltrate every aspect of people’s lives.
Choi Eunyong’s best-selling Shoko’s Smile has earned her comparisons to novelists such as Sally Rooney and Marilynne Robinson for the collection’s carefully crafted portraits of women’s relationships and intimacies formed and dissolved over time.
Prepare to be annoyed, Mona Dash warns the reader on the first page of her debut collection of stories. Those expecting to find tales of saris and jasmine will be disappointed, she says. Instead, the reader should prepare for stories which have not been told before: the voices traditionally marginalized by those belonging to the powerful and the erudite.
When grieving is over, when no one pauses to remember, things will be forgotten forever.
In many ways, Taiwan presents a compelling example of how autocratic regimes impose their will on a population, often as colonial overlords. A peaceful island peopled by Austronesians and ethnic Chinese, rich in agricultural output, has been a geopolitical pawn in recent history, first by the Japanese and then the defeated regime of Chiang Kai-shek in China. Parallels throughout the world are not difficult to find.