New Steps for the Development of Taiwanese Queer Fiction (I)
By Chang Yi-Hsum ∥ Translated by Jenna Tang
Aug 08, 2022

Looking at the genre, Taiwanese queer poetry is gaining force; as for fiction, there is no shortage of great works; as for essays about coming out of the closet, they picked up the rhythm slightly later – the queer essay collection Thorns and Waves (刺與浪) didn’t get published until 2022. Scripts started with Tian Chi-Yuan (田啟元), with some established styles, and Chien Li-Ying (簡莉穎) is one of the most compelling authors. In addition, the photography book Hand in Hand, Together  (拉拉手,在一起) incorporates photography and many queer communities’ personal statements. In the same genre of works that focus on this social movement and its course of development to strive for the equal marriage rights between 2016 and 2019, is The Calm After the Storm (雨過天青). Movie director Huang Hui-Chen’s (黃惠偵) The Priestess Walks Alone (我和我的T媽媽) bears significant importance: it is a moving confession from an adult daughter whose mother identifies herself as lesbian. In the following report, I have selected a few queer novels to focus on:


Starting from 1997, Taiwan began to establish a university major in Taiwanese literature. This development was perceived as a means to preserve Taiwan’s languages and history, but was thought of less as being related to creative works, or even to advocacy for queer writings. If one wanted to learn more about queer culture, after the ‘90s – majoring in English, American Literature, or other Foreign Language Literature was the primary option.

After 2017, new changes and literary phenomena made us look back to the turning points in 1997. First of all, Yang Shuang-Zi’s (楊双子) two novels, Seasons of Bloom (花開時節) and Taiwan Travelogue (台灣漫遊錄), are about the female queer stories that took place during the Japanese colonial period in Taiwan. The author had a firm grasp of Taiwanese history, causing queer literature, which is oftentimes introspective, to suddenly gain a unique sense of space. Lin Hsin Hui’s (林新惠) short story collection, Human Glitches (瑕疵人型), is interwoven with horror, bringing in objects and sci-fi writing to deconstruct the established gender disciplines. One of the stories in the collection, “Cover Up” (虛掩), was selected as a main source text for adaptation for the 2020 Taipei Golden Horse Film Academy’s final presentation. Ho Wen-Jin’s (何玟珒) That Day, We Searched Our Ways Behind a Chicken Butt (那一天我們跟在雞屁股後面尋路), on the other hand, is a work without any reservation, which embraces the queerness and the interactive dialectics of Taiwanese literature and history. The tradition of “換斗 changing stars” (a ceremony performance in which people change the gender of a fetus) is compared with transgender surgery: the former is the changing of gender under others’ expectations, while the latter is a personal decision – showing an excellent ability for criticism. Besides all this, the author has solid comedy skills. The sharpest section of this novel was the part that precisely reveals under which circumstances will queer memories be erased.


Read On: https://booksfromtaiwan.tw/latest_info.php?id=179