* 2021 Taiwan Literature Award
* 2021 Openbook Award
One morning in May, the citizens of Taiwan wake up to find they have all switched places with the citizens of Cuba. Huang Chong Kai’s astonishing work of magical realism opens new conversations on race, marginality, and the (re)telling of history.
On the 20th of May, 2024, one day after the inauguration of Taiwan’s first Indigenous President, the entire population of the island wakes up to discover they have suddenly switched places with the residents of Cuba. Two multi-ethnic island communities with both colonial and Indigenous histories suddenly find themselves facing baffling new questions, as well as the greedy stare of a new “mainland” hegemon.
Huang Chong Kai’s astonishing work of magical realism opens new conversations on race, marginality, and the (re)telling of history by weaving multiple voices and genres into a single work. We experience the miraculous switch through the eyes of Taiwan’s first Indigenous President, a Cuban painter, a Han Taiwanese who wants to be Indigenous, and a former inmate of Guantanamo Bay. The author transforms these stories into a narrative ecosystem by presenting them through a variety of different media styles, including book reviews, podcast transcripts, and interviews.
With its multitude of voices and narrative formats, The Formosa Exchange isn’t just a story, it’s an event – think Gabriel Garcia Marquez told with the historical commitment of Michael Herr’s Dispatches. It also offers extremely trenchant commentary on social constructions of race, multiculturalism, and political marginality.