New Steps for the Development of Taiwanese Queer Fiction (II)
By Chang Yi-Hsum ∥ Translated by Jenna Tang
Aug 09, 2022

Read Previous Part: https://booksfromtaiwan.tw/latest_info.php?id=178


The above three novelists are all deeply influenced by Taiwanese literature. With initial observation, we can tell that the earliest Taiwanese queer novels are modernist writings that are, at the same time, partly-autobiographical and confessional (take Qiu Miaojin (邱妙津) as an example) and they have been staying afloat in Taiwanese literature and history. The influence of Taiwanese queer novels has gone beyond coming-of-age stories and romance novels, and have entered a more diverse realm where social conversations take place. Writings from queer writers who were born past the ’70s, such as Ghost Town (鬼地方) from Kevin Chen (陳思宏), a story based on Yongjing, the author’s birthplace, and Kan Yao-Ming’s (甘耀明) Becoming Bunun (成為真正的人) can both be perceived as a reflection of this new phenomenon.

Besides the titles mentioned above, since the “Liberate Hong Kong, Revolution of our times” movement, a considerable amount of writings from Hong Kong writers has begun to appear in Taiwan. Some of these authors studied abroad in Taiwan, and some have settled on the island. Although “Hong Kong’s fate” is the most distinctive theme, the key element in so many stellar writings is the excellence of these authors’ skills. What these writings address aren’t limited to historical trauma. In this trend, a musician from Hong Kong, Wang He-Ping (王和平), who had studied in Hualien, has written That’s the Hormones Speaking (色情白噪音). Just like the title, the author intends to let hormones, who exist without a language, speak out. In her work, queerness is filled with both piercing, sensory strength and the overthrowing of established rhetorics.

Last but not least, the upcoming short story collection from Tetsuya Terao (寺尾哲也), Bullets Are the Remaining Life (子彈是餘生), is worth mentioning. Once a resident of San Francisco and a former Google software engineer, the author perfectly presents the landscapes of this professional field, as well as the background of Taiwanese nationals who reside in the States. There are three other elements that bring attention to this author’s writing: first is his style – he writes in a cold, piercing, yet concise and moving way, making the reading experience fast and pleasurable; secondly, in contrast to general assumptions, queer people who work in engineering and earn high salaries, don’t necessarily have easy lives. They might feel lonely in this elite environment with such high pressure. Scenes of queer people who died by suicide, who had suicidal thoughts, and who lived with the memories of other queer people who died by suicide appear frequently. The sense of despair isn’t to overly evoke emotions, but to be understood as “a state of mourning”, which gives it an even more profound meaning. Third is the profound existence of queer desire, and how it is never strengthened despite any positive feedback and experiences. Sexual enlightenment or sexual awakening, despite bearing the nature of humility, setback, and void, is still a part of the desire. Therefore, the queer community that is brought out by Tetsuya Terao, also joined the literary tradition that never gives up on “individuals who fell apart”.