Love Is a Gun review

Source: The China Project (9/8/23)
‘Love is a Gun’: A spellbinding vision of yearning for freedom
Taiwanese actor Lee Hong-Chi pulls off a remarkable artistic feat in his directorial debut, which premiered at the Venice Film Festival.
By Amarsanaa Battulga

Lulu, in a scene from Love is a Gun

The past comes flooding into the present in Lee Hong-Chi’s (李鸿其 Lǐ Hóngqí) visually arresting mood piece Love Is a Gun.

The Hong Kong-Taiwan co-production premiered earlier this week at Venice Critics’ Week, an independent parallel section of the prestigious Venice Film Festival, running until September 9. It shares titles with a 1994 cryptic erotic thriller starring Academy Award nominee Eric Roberts as a troubled crime-scene photographer, but there the similarity ends.

The characters in Lee’s story, co-written by himself, has some parallels with two other recent Chinese-language films, namely Gaey Wa’r (2021) and Absence (2023), which premiered at Cannes and Berlinale, respectively. Played by Lee himself, Sweet Potato has recently finished a prison stretch for shooting someone while working for a “Big Boss” that he’s never met or talked to. Now making meager earnings by renting umbrellas at the beach, he attempts to break free from the vicious cycle of his past criminal life, only to discover that it isn’t so simple.

Continue reading

What cuisine means to Taiwan identity

Source: NYT (8/8/23)
What Cuisine Means to Taiwan’s Identity and Its Clash With China
Chefs and restaurant owners are using a multiplicity of ingredients and tastes to reflect Taiwan’s roots, shaping a distinct culinary culture.
By Li Yuan (Reporting from Taipei, Taiwan)

A man in a black chef jacket sitting at a table in front of a steaming pot.

Ian Lee at his restaurant in Taipei called HoSu, which means “good island” in the Taiwanese dialect. Credit…Lam Yik Fei for The New York Times

Taiwan is a self-ruling island of 24 million people that is officially known as the Republic of China. Only about a dozen countries recognize it as a nation because China claims it as one of its provinces. Taiwan is called “Chinese Taipei” by international organizations and at the Olympic Games.

The ambiguity of Taiwan’s nationhood contrasts with a growing Taiwanese claim of identity. More than 60 percent of the people living on the island identify as Taiwanese, and roughly 30 percent identify as both Chinese and Taiwanese, according to the latest results of an annual survey conducted by National Chengchi University in Taipei. Only 2.5 percent consider themselves Chinese exclusively.

But what makes them Taiwanese, not Chinese? How will they create a cohesive narrative about their identity? And how do they reconcile with their Chinese heritage?

For many people, it’s through food, one of the things the island is known for, aside from its semiconductor industry. In the past decade or so, restaurateurs, writers and scholars have started to promote the concept of Taiwanese cuisine, reviving traditional fine dining and incorporating local, especially Indigenous, produce and ingredients into cooking. Continue reading

Taiwanese Literature as World Literature review

MCLC Resource Center is pleased to announce publication of Lingchei Letty Chen’s review of Taiwanese Literature as World Literature, edited by Pei-yin Lin and Wen-chi Li. The review appears below and at its online home: Normally, our literary studies book review editor, Nicholas Kaldis, would oversee publication of this review, but since he has a chapter in the book, I filled in for him. Enjoy.

Kirk Denton, MCLC

Taiwanese Literature as World Literature

Edited by Pei-yin Lin and Wen-chi Li

Reviewed by Lingchei Letty Chen

MCLC Resource Center Publication (Copyright July, 2023)

Pei-yin Lin and Wen-chi Li, eds. Taiwanese Literature as World Literature London: Bloomsbury Academic, 2022. 232pp. ISBN 9781501381355 (cloth).

The consequences of WWII and the subsequent Cold War exacerbated Taiwan’s long-held peripheral position in the international community. Taiwanese literature, as a result, has stood on the margin of Chinese literature. But that was last century. Now in the twenty-first century, Taiwan has moved into a more prominent position in global geopolitical and economic conflicts, particularly between the US and China, and Taiwanese literature has gained higher visibility through international circulation. In the past few years, we have seen more and more conferences, symposiums, and workshops featuring Taiwan and Taiwanese literature. Thanks also to the controversial notion of Sinophone, which has generated a great number of productive discussions and debates in the last decade or so, Taiwanese literature has attracted unprecedented attention from scholars around the world. With publications such as The Making of Chinese-Sinophone Literatures as World Literature (Hong Kong UP, 2022) and Taiwanese Literature as World Literature, which is under review here, it is not difficult to foresee how “Sinophone,” “world literature,” and “Taiwanese literature” will continue to be entwined in more scholarly work to come.

The edited volume, Taiwanese Literature as World Literature, is published by Bloomsbury Academic under the series Literatures as World Literature. It is not often that we see an Asian/East Asian scholarly work published by Bloomsbury Academic, a niche academic publisher known primarily for its imprints in British and European studies; The Arden Shakespeare and Methuen Drama, for example, are two of its prestigious imprints. A quick browse of its website and we find it has an “Asia Studies” umbrella category. Searching more closely its sub-categories, under East Asia Studies one finds only six titles; but fifty-one results under China studies; and twelve results under Asian Literature. The Literatures as World Literature series has twenty-eight titles, among which Taiwanese Literature as World Literature and Pacific Literatures as World Literature are Asia/East Asia related. Apparently for a niche academic publisher such as Bloomsbury Academic to expand beyond its traditional coverage, tapping into Asian studies and world literature studies is a smart route to go. For Taiwanese literature to have its distinct title in this series is certainly a laudable effort by the two editors, Pei-yin Lin and Wen-chi Li. Continue reading

Taiwan’s MeToo wave

Source: BBC News (6/15/23)
Taiwan sees MeToo wave of allegations after Netflix show
By Frances Mao and Benny Lu, in Singapore and Hong Kong

A scene from the TV show Wave Makers starring Gingle Wang (pictured)

A political staffer’s request for help in the Taiwanese show Wave Makers (pictured) has inspired women in real life to speak out

Taiwan is being rocked by a wave of sexual harassment and assault allegations – sparked by a Netflix show which many say has ignited a local MeToo movement. More than 90 people have spoken out in the past fortnight, accusing people across the island.

The allegations at first centred on politics and the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) – where several senior officials have resigned. But they have spread across Taiwanese society, with allegations being made against doctors, professors, sporting umpires and YouTubers.

On Saturday, a Polish diplomat was accused of sexual assault by a think tank researcher.

For many women, the moment is long overdue in a Taiwanese society otherwise praised globally for its progressive politics and commitment to gender equality.

President Tsai Ing-wen, the island’s first female leader, has apologised and vowed reform.

“Previously we had single cases around sexual harassment, but never in such magnitude,” social commentator Dr Liu Wen from Taiwan’s Sinica Academia told the BBC. “It’s the first time a lot of the underlying issues in different industries are being revealed all at the same time.” Continue reading

32 New Takes on Taiwan Cinema review

MCLC Resource Center is pleased to announce publication of Ming-Yeh T. Rawnsley’s review of 32 New Takes on Taiwan Cinema, edited by Emilie Yueh-yu Yeh, Darrell William Davis, and Wenchi Lin. The review appears below and at its online home: My thanks to Nicholas Kaldis for overseeing publication of the review.

Kirk Denton, MCLC

32 New Takes on Taiwan Cinema

Edited by Emilie Yueh-yu Yeh, Darrell William Davis, and Wenchi Lin

Reviewed by Ming-Yeh T. Rawnsley 

MCLC Resource Center Publication (Copyright June, 2023)

Emilie Yueh-yu Yeh, Darrell William Davis, and Wenchi Lin, eds. 32 New Takes on Taiwan Cinema Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan Press, 2022, xii + 563 pp. + 40 illus. ISBN: 978-0-472-07546-1 (cloth) / ISBN: 978-0-472-05546-3 (paper) / ISBN: 978-0-472-22039-7 (e-book)

It has always been a rewarding experience to read works by Emilie Yueh-yu Yeh and Darrell William Davis. In their Taiwan Film Directors: A Treasure Island (2007), Yeh and Davis took an auteur approach and provided readers with a careful study of several Taiwan-based filmmakers, including Hou Hsiao-Hsien, Edward Yang, Ang Lee, and Tsai Ming-liang. That volume explored Taiwan film directors’ particular styles of image composition and editing patterns, as well as how, from a larger perspective, their artistic trajectories and career developments were related to Taiwan’s social, political, and cultural history. One year later in East Asian Screen Industries (2008), Davis and Yeh adopted an industry-focused approach and articulated new benchmarks set by Japanese, South Korean, and the three Chinese-language cinemas—Taiwan, Hong Kong, and the People’s Republic of China. Their examination of structural features and strategies employed by these five film industries between the 1990s and the 2000s illuminated an emerging trend of “increasing decentralisation, deregulation and regional cooperation” (p. 3). This framework has contributed enormously to our understanding of East Asian screen cultures and talents within the global flow of communications.[1]

In their new volume, 32 New Takes on Taiwan Cinema, published in December 2022, Yeh and Davis team up with co-editor Wenchi Lin and take a conventional approach from the discipline of film studies—that is, a meticulous examination of individual films. As the editors state, their aim is to reveal a wide spectrum of Taiwanese cinematic output in addition to updating the existing literature. Their stated criteria of selection include (1) films that represent different historical settings, genres, auteurs, and formats in the post-war era; (2) films that are less studied in the English language literature; (3) prioritizing films produced in the twenty-first century; (4) films that are readily available for viewing with bilingual subtitles and suitable audio-visual quality; and (5) films that the contributors themselves prefer (p. 2). Based on the above considerations, Yeh, Davis, and Lin offer readers thirty-two original interpretations of films released between 1963 and 2017, arranged chronologically, which together demonstrate a fresh and expansive perspective on Taiwan cinema. Continue reading

Some indigenous people in Taiwan want to drop their Chinese names

F y i — btw, since the genocide, I’ve also dropped my Chinese name i used to have, … in my case, just can’t stand it thinking of those masses of people force-fed Chinese language and force-renamed with Chinese names, in the Uyghur concentration camps …. so I can understand the Taiwan aborigine people who do this. Magnus Fiskesjö <>.

Source: LA Times (5/2/23)
Some Indigenous people in Taiwan want to drop their Chinese names: ‘That history has nothing to do with mine’

Indigenous performers pose for photos during a traditional annual performance

Indigenous performers in Taipei, Taiwan, pose for photos during an annual traditional performance at the Dr. Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall on Aug. 20, 2022. (Sam Yeh / AFP via Getty Images)

TAIPEI, Taiwan — The name on his government ID when he was growing up — and how his classmates, teachers and baseball teammates knew him — was Chu Li-jen.

At home, however, he was always Giljegiljaw Kungkuan, or “Giyaw” for short, the Indigenous name bestowed on him by his grandmother.

By the time he was a teenager, he wanted to go by his Indigenous name all the time, as a matter of pride. But his parents worried that abandoning his Chinese name would only cause him trouble in a Chinese-dominated society.

In 2019, he finally made it his legal name with the Taiwanese government after Cleveland‘s MLB franchise — grappling with its own name issues — invited him to spring training. He wanted to ensure that come the next season, the letters emblazoned on his jersey would read: “GILJEGILJAW.” Continue reading

China to prosecute Taiwan activist for ‘secession’

Source: BBC News (4/25/23)
China to prosecute Taiwan activist for ‘secession’
China has detained a number of Taiwan-linked individuals in recent weeks
By Kelly Ng, BBC News, Singapore

Flags of China and Taiwan on phone screens


China says it will prosecute a Taiwanese man for alleged secession, in the latest move against Taiwan-linked individuals on mainland Chinese soil. Yang Chih-yuan, the founder of a pro-independence Taiwanese political party, was detained in China last year.

In recent weeks China has also detained a book publisher and reporters working for a Taiwan broadcaster.

Taiwan has criticised China’s “arbitrary arrests”, saying they were “severely damaging” to human rights.

The latest case centres on Mr Yang, who was based in Taiwan and had founded the Taiwanese National Party.

The 32-year-old had travelled to China last year for unknown reasons. In August, he was arrested in the eastern Chinese city of Wenzhou on suspicion of “separatism”.

At the time his detention was linked to a Chinese crackdown on “separatists” amid tensions over former US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s trip to Taiwan. Continue reading

A History of Taiwan Literature review

MCLC Resource Center is pleased to announce publication of Po-hsi Chen’s review of A History of Taiwan Literature, by Ye Shitao, translated and edited by Christopher Lupke. The review appears below and at its online home: My thanks to Michael Hill, our translation/translation studies book review editor, for ushering the review to publication.

Kirk Denton, MCLC

A History of Taiwan Literature

Ye Shitao

Translated, Edited, and Introduced by Christopher Lupke

Reviewed by Po-hsi Chen

MCLC Resource Center Publication (Copyright April, 2023)

Ye Shitao, A History of Taiwan LiteratureTranslated, with introduction and epilogue, by Christopher Lupke. Amherst, NY: Cambria Press, 2020. 404 pp. ISBN: 9781638570035 (paperback).

In 2022, Yeh Shih-tao, a Taiwan Man 台灣男子葉石濤 (dir. Hsu Hui-lin 許卉林) was released, marking a rare occasion where a documentary about a Taiwanese literary writer hit the big screen. The film’s subject, Ye Shitao (1925–2008), was a renowned novelist and literary historian. In the previous year, Christopher Lupke’s much-anticipated translation of Ye’s A History of Taiwan Literature 台灣文學史綱 was awarded the well-deserved MLA Aldo and Jeanne Scaglione Prize for a Translation of a Scholarly Study of Literature. Before its translation, this book was long considered a must-read for students interested in pursuing a degree in Taiwanese literature. Given the relatively marginalized status of Taiwanese literary history in English-language curricula, Lupke’s contribution is significant. Although a general history of Taiwan can be taught by using Wan-yao Chou’s A New Illustrated History of Taiwan,[1] a similar resource for literature was not available until this translation was published. Moreover, before Lupke’s translation, there was no comprehensive book in English that systematically covers the history of Taiwanese literature from the late imperial to the post-martial law period.[2] In the English translation, Ye’s original text is bookended by Lupke’s detailed introduction and an epilogue that chronicles the post-1987 development of Taiwanese literature. Continue reading

Indigenous Taiwan, Transpacific Connections talks

Indigenous Taiwan, Transpacific Connections
台灣原住民文化: 跨越太平洋的聯結

Bilingual videos of eight talks with four Taiwan writers and filmmakers about Indigeneity, art, and life in contemporary Taiwan:

Writer Badai 巴代

“Indigenous literary practices in postcolonial Taiwan” (43 mins):

“Indigenous culture in modern society” (41 mins):

Filmmaker Wei Te-sheng 魏德聖

“The making of the first blockbuster film about Taiwan’s Indigenous history” (43 mins):

“Representing Taiwan tribes in ‘Warriors of the Rainbow'” (37 mins):

Writer Ahronglong Sakinu 亞榮隆撒可奴

“Reviving Taiwan Indigenous practices for a new generation” (58 mins):

“Mountain boars and flying squirrels in ‘Hunter School'” (44 mins):
Continue reading

Ma Ying-jeou visits China

Source: AP (3/27/23)
Taiwan’s former leader Ma begins China visit

In this photo released by Ma Ying-jeou Office, Former Taiwan President Ma Ying-jeou, center, waves as he arrivers with his delegation at the Pudong airport in Shanghai, China, Monday, March 27, 2023. Ma departed for a tour of China on Monday, in what he called an attempt to reduce tensions a day after Taiwan lost one of its few remaining diplomatic partners to China. Monday, March 27, 2023. (Ma Ying-jeou Office via AP)

In this photo released by Ma Ying-jeou Office, Former Taiwan President Ma Ying-jeou, center, waves as he arrivers with his delegation at the Pudong airport in Shanghai, China, Monday, March 27, 2023. Ma departed for a tour of China on Monday, in what he called an attempt to reduce tensions a day after Taiwan lost one of its few remaining diplomatic partners to China. Monday, March 27, 2023. (Ma Ying-jeou Office via AP)

TAOYUAN, Taiwan (AP) — Former Taiwan President Ma Ying-jeou departed for a tour of China on Monday, in what he called an attempt to reduce tensions a day after Taiwan lost one of its few remaining diplomatic partners to China.

The ex-president is visiting in a private capacity, bringing a delegation of academics and college students for exchanges, as well as members of his family, but the trip is loaded with political meaning.

Ma’s policies brought Taiwan and Beijing to their closest relationship ever, but his exit from office was overshadowed by massive protests against a trade deal with the mainland and his successor has focused on bolstering ties with the U.S. and defending the autonomy of the democratically governed island that China claims as part of its own territory.

Current President Tsai Ing-wen is expected to launch a 10-day diplomatic tour of her own Wednesday, ostensibly to visit the island’s remaining allies in Latin America. She will stop in the U.S., Taiwan’s biggest unofficial partner and supplier of arms.

Ma’s visit comes amid rising tensions. Beijing has stepped up pressure against Taiwan in recent years, poaching its diplomatic allies while also sending military fighter jets flying towards the island on a near daily basis. On Sunday, Honduras established diplomatic relations with China, leaving Taiwan with only 13 countries that recognize it as a sovereign state. Continue reading

Newman Prize in Chinese Literature 2023

The Newman Prize in Chinese Literature Symposium, which was held on March 2, can be viewed on Youtube here: It features Zhang Guixing 張貴興, the 2023 prize winner, reading from a new novel, and talks by Shu-mei Shih, E. K. Tan, and Carlos Rojas. The video starts at around minute 7:00.  The award ceremony, held yesterday, can be seen here: Speeches start at minute 41:40.

Taiwan Literature in the 21st Century

Dear colleagues,

We are thrilled to announce that Taiwan Literature in the 21st Century: A Critical Reader has been published by Springer.

This anthology involves wide-ranging topics, such as the rewriting of Taiwanese history, human rights, political and social transitions, post-nativism, Indigenous consciousness, science fiction, ecocriticism, gender and queer studies, and localization and globalization. The goal is to rethink these existing topics and further explore innovative takes on Taiwan literature in the contemporary era.

If you are interested, please check out the book via the link below.


Chia-rong Wu, Associate Professor, University of Canterbury, New Zealand <>
Ming-ju Fan, Professor, National Chengchi University, Taiwan

Writer on death row

Source: Taipei Times (1/15/23)
Taiwan in Time: Writer on death row
Condemned for masterminding a kidnapping, award-winning author Tang Chen-huan’s first piece — a heart-rending letter to his young son — was published on Jan. 18, 1972
By Han Cheung / Staff reporter

The cover of The Confessions of A Death Row Inmate, published in 1975. Photo courtesy of National Central Library

Titled “Confessions of a Father on Death Row,” (一個死刑犯父親的心聲), Tang Chen-huan’s (唐震寰) literary debut was one of sorrow and regret.

It ran in the literary supplement of the China Daily News (中華日報) on Jan. 18, 1972, and marked the beginning of Tang’s literary career, which included several awards and a movie adaptation. He was the nation’s first inmate to pay taxes on book royalties.

The well-liked former junior high school teacher was condemned for kidnapping the children of a businessman who had cheated him out of a large sum of money. Although he returned the kids unharmed, such crimes were punishable by death during the Martial Law era.

“I wrote for nearly 20 hours a day, because I didn’t know if I would be dragged out and executed when the morning came,” he writes in a Xiangguang Magazine (香光莊嚴) article in 1996. “As long as I could still breathe, I wanted to write down all the words I wanted to say … I hoped that those in precarious situations, or those who sought revenge, could see me as an example and refrain from doing something they would regret forever.” Continue reading

Comedies in East Asian Media

New Publication
Comedies in East Asian Media: Laughing in Bitter Times, a special issue of Archiv orientální
Archiv orientální Vol. 90 No. 3 (2022)
Editors: Ta-wei Chi, Elaine Chung, and Jessica Siu-yin Yeung

Table of Contents

Introduction/ Ta-wei Chi, Elaine Chung, Jessica Siu-yin Yeung

Cultural Memory, the Trope of “Humble Wage Earners,” and Everyman Heroism in the Hui Brothers’ Comedies and Their Remake/ Jessica Siu-yin Yeung

Laughter Suspended: Japanese Surreal Comedy and the Ends of Progress/ David Humphrey

Neoliberal Subjectivities and Cynicism in China: Feng Xiaogang’s Dream-play Comedies/ Yung-Hang Bruce Lai

A Tale of Two Dragons: Politics of the Comedic Kung Fu Body in Chinese Cinema/ Wayne Wong

YouTube Vidding and Participatory Memories of Stephen Chow’s Stardom in South Korea/ Elaine Chung

“I wish my films would bring hopes to the spectators”: An interview with Michael Hui/ Jessica Siu-yin Yeung

City of Laughter: On the Traditions and Trends of Hong Kong Comedy Films/ Fiona Yuk-wa Law

A Brief History of Taiwanese Comedy Cinema/ George Chun Han Wang

For query about access, please contact the editors:

Ta-wei Chi (
Elaine Chung (
Jessica Siu-yin Yeung (

Classical trash

Source: The Guardian (12/26/22)
Classical trash: how Taiwan’s musical bin lorries transformed ‘garbage island’
Army of yellow garbage trucks blasting out classical jingles brings out a Pavlovian response to take out bins
By Helen Davidson and Chi Hui Lin in Taipei

Mr Li, a 32-year-old binman in Taipei: “Whenever I hear Für Elise, I feel like I need to take out the garbage as well.’ Photograph: Chi Hui Lin/The Guardian

The sound is inescapable. Wherever you are in Taiwan – be it three beers deep at a city bar, floating in the Taiwan Strait, or hauling yourself up a mountain – you’ll still hear the tinny, off-key classical jingle, and it will trigger a Pavlovian surge of panic: I have to take the bins out.

In the last few decades, Taiwan has transformed itself from “garbage island” to one of the world’s best managers of household trash, and it’s done so with a soundtrack. Armies of yellow trucks trundle through the streets five days a week, blasting earsplitting snippets of either Beethoven’s Für Elise or A Maiden’s Prayer by Tekla Bądarzewska-Baranowska.

In the Taipei suburb of Guting, Ms Chen, 60, sits on the steps of a Buddhist temple with her neighbour waiting for the trucks to arrive. They and the surrounding neighbours are dressed casually, some in pyjamas and hair curlers, chatting or looking at their phones. Continue reading