From Pulp to Politics:
Aspects of Topicality in Fiction by Li Ang

By Rosemary Haddon

Modern Chinese Literature and Culture, vol. 13, no. 1, pp.36-72

Li Ang (1952 – ) is one of Taiwan’s best-known contemporary writers of fiction. The author first rose to prominence in the late 1960s and early 1970s with her stories about pubescent female psychosexuality. During the thirty years since then, she has produced more stories, novels and novellas, all of which center around women. Li’s writing has garnered her an international reputation, and she is widely read both in Taiwan and abroad.

Unlike other fiction writers from Taiwan, Li Ang’s writing has sparked extensive critical acclaim. The level of debate and publicity generated by her works has at times been sensational and has led to her acquisition of a celebrity status that is unique and unmatched by her contemporaries. The publicity can be accounted for by the topical, idiosyncratic nature of her subject matters and her successive broaching of topics that border on the taboo, at least within the cultural context of Taiwan. Feminism and gender, sex and sexuality, female subjectivity, politics and separatism are dealt with in ways that are both preemptive and sensationalistic. Li’s writing is configured by elements that attract and garner attention, its eye-catching features similar in ways to those of the mass media. From pulp to politics, the topical, eye-popping aspects of Li Ang’s fiction account for the ability of this writer to remain on the cutting edge of Taiwan’s popular discourse.