“But in What Way Is It Ours?”:
Guo Songfen and the Question of Homeland

By Li-ping Chen

Modern Chinese Literature and Culture, vol. 32, no.2  (Fall 2020), pp. 100-135

Through a close examination of Guo Songfen’s short story “Moon Seal” (Yueyin, 1984), the essay explores the question of homeland that shapes Guo’s life in displacement and propels his literary writing in diaspora. Guo’s bitter struggle to locate his sense of belonging encapsulates the difficult pursuit of a homeland of his own. The continuing confrontation with and between competing homelands leads to an acute sense of loss in the triangulation of his natal island, the ancestral mainland, and his ideal of a socialist China. While the concept of homeland has been debated extensively in Diaspora Studies, the ideology of a singular home origin has remained rarely challenged. This singular model fails to address the conjunction of serial colonization, cross-strait antagonism, and the rise of local consciousness that evokes contrary orientations of homelands in the formation and transformation of Taiwanese identity at home and aboard. What is at stake to live in a diaspora situation when one’s homeland is more than one but none seems attainable? Guo’s mourning of loss was perpetuated by a prolonged, self-imposed banishment from his trifucated homeland. As a result, his homeward journey can only begin from recollection and through literary production.