Cambria Press author Professor Jonathan Stalling, Professor of English and Curator of the Chinese Literature Translation Archive at the University of Oklahoma, gave a speech about his book, Contemporary Taiwanese Women Writers: An Anthology, coedited with Lin Tai-man and Yanwing Leung, at the Cambria Press reception at the AAS 2018 conference in Washington, DC.
Watch Professor Jonathan Stalling’s speech and/or read the transcript below.
“I’m going to jump right in about the two questions that are asked about the book. The first is how did this volume of short fiction by contemporary Taiwanese women come about? The longer version of the answer is that it starts about twelve years ago, in Arkansas. We’ll fast forward to a couple of decades. The next relevant bit would be working in Chinese Literature Today. Over the process of six or seven years, I became more and more familiar, although I didn’t start out as a Taiwan scholar or editor. Gradually, I became more and more connected to the Taiwanese literary scene, with people like Li Yang, Zhu Tianwen, Yang Mu, and others. That eventually brought me to Taiwan for the first time to meet with the poet Ye Weilian and during that time, I toured a part of Taipei with him, and met some of the older generations of poets and the newer generations of poets as well. Second time I came around, I met with fiction writers, architects, and dancers, as well as entrepreneurs, archivists, scholars, critics, poets, and so on, and got a deeper and more textured sense of what was happening on the Taiwan scene. It was that time that I met Jack Kuei [the Director of Taiwan Academy at the Taiwan Economic and Cultural Representative Office in the U.S. (TECRO)] and we started thinking about what was in fact greatly missing and it was over two decades that there was an anthology of Taiwanese women writers in English. And that is really the point of genesis. And I did write this down as well, and that this volume would not be possible if the Taiwanese literary scene were not so vibrant and diverse and if this robust productivity were not curated by TaiPen over many decades starting in 1972. That repository of rich translated literary material by some of the very best translators in the Sinosphere and Englishspheres was really what made this volume possible.
Furthermore it would not be possible if it were not for the support of Jack Kuei, who has been a driving force behind this work and others. It would also not have been possible without my Co-editors Lin Tai-man, and Yanwing Leung, and finally Toni Tan, and her amazing editorial and marketing team at Cambria. Speaking here right now with all of you is simply another extension of the care and energy that goes into the Sinophone World Series.
The second question is what is your favorite story in the anthology? Each story is so different from the next as each takes the reader from the first page and pulls them through such fascinating narratives that we have little choice but to with the authors adolescence, marriage, motherhood, sex, politics and economics on so many different scales. —We are there in the snapshots of lives in transition, we are there as whole lives appear and disappear in time-lapse images across decades, and we are there while a few implode into the stillness of a single bottomless moment. That is all to say, I cannot answer this question with a single story when the entire, pointedly gendered exploration of modern Taiwan is such a compelling and timely collection.”
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About the book
A Pacific island of roughly 14,400 square miles, Taiwan lies just over a hundred miles off the China’s southeast shoreline and seven hundred miles south of Japan. It has been a contested cultural space between its original aboriginal inhabitants (Taiyals and Vonums) and many generations of Chinese immigrants as well as waves of Dutch, Spanish, and Japanese colonial inhabitants. All of this provides the backdrop for some of the richest Sinophone literature in the world. Unfixed, vibrant, and deeply engaged with a sense of place, Taiwanese women writers—from the experimental poetry pioneer Hsia Yu to younger multimedia poets like Ye Mimi to powerhouse authors like Li Ang and Chu T’ien-wen—are continually pushing the boundaries of the possible and unlocking new directions for Sinophone literature in the twenty-first century.
With this first English-language anthology of contemporary Taiwanese women writers in decades, readers are finally provided with a window to the widest possible range of voices, styles, and textures of contemporary Taiwanese women writers. Each story unfolds and takes readers through fascinating narratives spanning adolescence, marriage, and motherhood as well as sex, politics and economics on many different scales—some appear as snapshots of lives in transition, others reveal whole lives as time-lapse images across decades, while a few implode into the stillness of a single bottomless moment. Individually each story expresses its own varied, expansively heterogeneous narrative; when read as a whole collection, readers will discover a pointedly gendered exploration of modern Taiwan.
Title: Contemporary Taiwanese Women Writers: An Anthology
Editors: Jonathan Stalling, Lin Tai-man, and Yanwing Leung
Publisher: Cambria Press
226 pp. | 2018 | Paperback & E-book
Book Webpage: http://www.cambriapress.com/books/9781604979558.cfm