2009 China Times Open Book Award
2009 Taipei Book Fair Award
Set in the 1940s rural Taiwan before and after the Japanese colonial rule, Kan Yao-Ming’s epic Killing Ghosts was a publishing sensation when it first came out. A dazzling feat of storytelling, it tells the adventures of an unusually tall boy for his age by the name of Pa, a kind of a superman imbued with the spirits of the gods. He hurtles through a magical landscape filled with trains that ‘can walk without rails,’ boy soldiers who march with their family tombstones on their backs, and a stubborn old man who defies the Japanese rule by burying himself alive before turning into a forest. Told in a language mixing Mandarin, Japanese, Hakka and Taiwanese languages, the novel addresses serious historical and political issues with a fabulist approach that is gleefully irreverent and wildly imaginative.
Killing Ghosts became Taiwan’s most talked-about Chinese novel in 2009, selling over 10,000 copies, a huge number for a domestic literary novel. It won both the China Times Open Book Award, the Taipei Book Fair Award, and was chosen as the Chinese Book of the Year by Books.com, the country’s leading online bookstore. Mo Yan, wrote an enthusiastic blurb for the book, praising it as a story that ‘has the power to move heaven and earth.’