People worried about the end of the world during the 1990s. The end of the millennium provided the perfect milestone for the superstitiously-minded, with some becoming convinced that midnight on 31st December, 1999 would not ring in the changes, but rather the apocalypse.
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.
Taiwan’s contemporary commitment to transitional justice and democracy hinges on this history of violence, for which this volume provides a literary treatment as essential as it is varied. This is among the first collections of stories to comprehensively address the social, political, and economic aspects of the White Terror and to do so with deep attention to its transnational character.
Since the lifting of martial law in 1987, queer authors have redefined Taiwan’s cultural scene, and throughout the 1990s many of their works have won the most prestigious literary awards and accolades. This anthology provides a deeper understanding of queer literary history in Taiwan. It includes a selection of short stories, previously untranslated, written by Taiwanese authors dating from 1975 to 2020.
While Asian protagonists are no longer rare in young adult fiction, some cultures seem more prevalent in the genre than others. Think Jenny Han’s books and the various K-Pop stories, as well as Taiwanese-American stories like Loveboat Taipei and Rent a Boyfriend. In an apparent first, Loan Le’s debut novel, A Pho Love Story, adds to this list with a rom-com featuring Vietnamese-American teens. Although the details of the Vietnamese refugee experience may not be familiar to all teens, the restaurant setting and accompanying food most likely will be.
Ten years ago, a spate of suicides at Foxconn’s factories in Shenzhen thrust the company into global headlines. These workers, part of a million-strong workforce, were involved in making Apple’s iPhone, the world’s premier status symbol smartphone. While the suicides are now mainly in the past, the issues raised in Dying for an iPhone remain pertinent to China’s labor situation and global manufacturing generally.
Bestiary opens with a quest for lost gold. Agong, to whom the gold belongs, has no recollection of where he stashed the two bars. His family upturns the yard in pursuit of the misplaced treasure, first by digging holes, then with a metal detector.