A Son of Taiwan

A Son of Taiwan: Stories of Government Atrocity edited by Howard Goldblatt and Sylvia Li-chun Lin (Cambria Press) has just been published.

This book is part of the Cambria Literature in Taiwan Series, headed by Professor Nikky Lin (National Taiwan Normal University), a collaboration with the National Museum of Taiwan Literature, the National Human Rights Museum, and National Taiwan Normal University.

Paperback (ISBN: 9781621966937)  $29.99 • 216pp. • E-book editions start at $14.99—Order from Cambria Press.

On February 28, 1947, a widow selling cigarettes on the street in Taipei was brutally beaten by government agents searching for contraband cigarettes. When a crowd gathered, shots were fired and a bystander was killed. Island-wide demonstrations prompted the Chiang Kai-shek government to send reinforcements from China. Upon arrival, the troops opened fire, killing thousands. The massacre was followed by large-scale arrests of anyone suspected of sedition or Communist associations, all in the name of national security. Martial law was declared and not lifted until 1987. What happened in 1947 is known as the 2/28 Incident, which led to a four-decade-long suppression of dissent, encroachments upon civil liberties, and the wholesale violation of human rights, all subsumed under an era referred to as White Terror. Its pernicious effects went beyond actual acts of atrocity, as the citizens practiced self-censorship and passed their fears on to the next generation. For many years, this part of Taiwan’s past was talked about, if at all, with circumspection. As evidenced in this collection, literary representations often employed obscure references, which themselves could place the writers in serious jeopardy. Despite, or because of, differences in approach, these writers keep memories alive to ensure that the past is neither forgotten nor repeated.

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. Now that Asia’s preeminent democracy has created a political and cultural milieu in which Taiwanese no longer have to tiptoe around sensitive topics, much historical research has been undertaken on this turbulent period, the results published and widely read. In presenting multiple perspectives from various ethnic groups that call Taiwan their homeland, the stories in this collection can expand our understanding of Taiwan’s post-colonial history and extend our memory of the past, in Taiwan’s pursuit of transitional justice. This collection will be of interest to general readers as well as classes dealing with fictional re-creation of government atrocity.

Table of Contents

Note from Series Editor

Introduction: Stories of Taiwan (Sylvia Li-chun Lin)

  1. “Potsdam Section Chief” by Wu Zhuoliu (translated by Sylvia Li-chun Lin and Howard Goldblatt)
  2. “Jian A-tao” by Ye Shitao (translated by Craig A. Smith)
  3. “Red Dragonfly” by Lay Chih-ying (translated by Darryl Sterk)
  4. “Auntie Tiger” by Li Ang (translated by Jewel Lo and Dafydd Fell)
  5. “Nocturnal Strings” by Lee Yu (translated by Chris Wen-chao Li)
  6. “Cruelty of the City” by Walis Nokan (translated by Edward Vickers)

About the Authors
About the Editors and Translators

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *