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MOTHER EARTH

少女媽祖婆

MOTHER EARTH

Nominated for the 2014 Taiwan Literary Award

Cheng Shu-Fen has helped give birth to three thousand babies and saved countless lives ever since delivering her first at the age of twelve. Now a legend in the surrounding villages, she is quite simply the most sought after midwife in the northeast of Taiwan.

Born into a large, close-knit family, Shu-Fen’s relatives have always supported her calling despite her stubbornness and short temper. She rarely accepts the red envelopes of money that the families try to press into her hands. But with this work comes a greater duty, to educate those who would favour sons over daughters that girls deserve the same respect and love. The villagers appreciate Shu-Fen’s honest and tireless work and have given her the name Mazu, after the Goddess of the Sea, protector of Taiwan.

But for all her skills in helping other young women give birth, her own love story is far from straightforward. One young man, however, is deeply moved by the commitment she shows to her work and on his return from studying in Japan is determined to make Shu-Fen his wife. But Shu-Fen’s heart belongs to another, a young man who died in a mining accident. For Shu-Fen, love and lust bring bad luck. But gradually, she must learn to face the voice in her heart…

Written with vivid, precise prose in an unconventional style and with a healthy dose of Taiwanese dialect, MOTHER EARTH describes a young woman’s coming of age as she struggles to find her place and purpose in life with emotion and humour. This is one of the most remarkable books to come out of Taiwan in recent years.

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