Source: Taipei Times
Book review: Fictionalizing Taiwan’s White Terror
Political persecution is revealed as a violence that extends beyond physical abuse to a trauma that scars the soul
By James Baron / Contributing Reporter
Violence and oppression, we are told in the introduction to this collection of tales, are foundational to modern Taiwan, providing “a legacy that continues to influence its contemporary society.”
It is interesting, then, that an anthology subtitled “Stories about the White Terror,” offers few instances of physical violence, a notable exception being a neighborhood dust-up involving a gossip nicknamed Big Mouth Yang.
This incident, from Sung Tse-lai’s (宋澤萊) “Rice Diary,” is the first snapshot in a montage of quotidian happenings in the village of Daniunan (打牛湳), Yunlin County. The story forms part of a series focusing on life in this village in the 50s and 60s.
At first glance, the squabble is an insignificant personal grievance. Yet, this land rights wrangle points to something deeper. Acknowledging that he could simply divide the disputed property, Big Mouth’s assailant Ban-hok nonetheless concludes that “in this downturn, with so much craziness and thievery all around — well maybe he was thief, too.” Continue reading