Literature of "foreigners" in Taiwan

The recent literary offerings on this forum have made me wonder what other, maybe related stuff is out there. Is there a semi-complete list somewhere? Maybe here…?

Yes, I know there are some domain issues here (who’s a foreigner?) but work with me. Let’s tentatively limit ourselves to post-1948 literature in any language which is concerned in some way with Taiwan, preferably by foreigners who have lived here.

I’ll start us off. Working backwards from yesterday, we have

  • Hartley Pool. “Stranger in Taiwan.” Unpublished memoir-like novel, in progress as of 2008. stranger-in-taiwan.blogspot.com/

  • Francie Lin. “The Foreigner: A Novel.” McMillan (hardcover) / Picador (paperback): 2008. Underworld thriller. Main character is a Taiwanese-American.

  • Kate Rogers. “Painting the Borrowed House.” Proverse (Hong Kong): 2008.

  • Linda Gail Arrigo and Lynn Miles. “A Borrowed Voice.” Hanyao Color Printing Co: 2008. Taiwan history.

  • Gits Ferrari (pseud.). “Not Sars, Just Sex: Life in Taipei during SARS.” White Monkey: 2007. Memoir-like novel. notsarsjustsex.com/NSJSfree.pdf

  • Ed Lakewood. “Notes From the Other China: Adventures In Asia.” Algora (New York): 2007. Travel writing.

  • Syd Goldsmith. “Jade Phoenix.” iUniverse (Lincoln, Nebraska): 2006. A period romance novel set in the days of martial law. writerswebpages.com/sydgoldsmith/index.htm

  • John Dalton. “Heaven Gate.” Scribner: 2004. Novel about a foreign missionary in Taiwan.

  • Mike O’Conner. “When the Tiger Weeps” (2004), “Life in a Chinese Province” (1988), and “The Basin.” Poetry collections.

  • Allan Topol. “Dark Ambition.” Onyx: 2003. Spy / military thriller. amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/ … ilitarycom

  • Eric Mader-Lin. “A Taipei Mutt.” Cheng Shang Publishing House: 2002. Satirical “comic-erotic” novel. Is he revising it for republication? claytestament.blogspot.com/search/label/ch1

  • Lin Dao-ming (Chinese name of T.C. Locke). “Counting Mantou: An American in Taiwan’s Army.” Memoir. English version unpublished, Chinese published through Lotus Publishing Co. Author is a naturalized ROC citizen. poagao.org/psample.htm

  • John Ross. "Formosan Odyssey: Taiwan, Past and Present.’ Taiwan Adventure Publications, 2002. Travel writing / popular history.

  • Steven Crook. “Keeping Up with the War God: Taiwan, As It Seemed to Me.” Yushan Publications: 2001. Travel writing / memoir. romanization.com/books/crook/index.html

  • Humphrey Hawksley & Simon Holberton. “Dragon Strike.” 1997. Military thriller. The war takes place in 2005. Hawksley later wrote “Dragon Fire” (2000) which is not a sequel, but features a new, pan-Asian war.

  • William Arnold. “China Gate.” Ballantine Books / Random House: 1983. Novel.

  • Margery Wolf, “The House of Lim: A Study of a Chinese Farm Family.” Prentice Hall: 1968. Anthropological case-study.

*Fei Ma (Chinese name of William Marr). Misc. poetry.

I vaguely remember some older stuff–books of short stories as well as poetry–but can’t recall enough to search for it. Can you?

Literary Journals:

X-Pat: xpatmag.com/
Pressed: pressed-literature.com/
Taiwanease taiwanease.com

Ooo, cool thread. ‘The Taiwan School’…

Help jog my memory. There was a foreign correspondent of some sort stationed here, who wrote a bunch of English-language poems (which he kept revising). The line “The dragon boats in proud array” sticks in my head. And he also wrote a short story about a woman who cheated on her husband with his worst enemy, had a child by him, left the husband, and then the enemy adopted the son. (All of them Chinese.)

Another book of short stories, published here in English around 1990, included a story about a foreign woman who has sex with a Chinese man at the Beitou hot springs. She has met his mother (and they watch the same soap opera), but the man lied and told his mother that this girl was a stewardess, and would not be coming back. Sound familiar to anybody?

Something from the pre-1949 period: China Coast Tales (30 MB PDF), by Lise Boehm, whose real name was Elise Williamina Edersheim Giles – as in the wife of the Giles of Wade-Giles.

From “Playing Providence” (1897):

[quote]Fifteen years of Formosa, and some twenty-five of China, had rotted away many of the good qualities with which Eugen Gregorius had started in life. The general demoralisation of the foreigners around him, caused in part by a deadly climate, in part by want of occupation, in part by too much ready money easily available, had slowly but surely affected even the sturdy Teuton. By dint of much fever he had almost become feverproof; by dint of hard drinking – not excessive but steady imbibing – he had become callous to suffering in himself or in others; by dint of losing his friends, or by being forgotten of them, he had become hard-hearted, with no pleasures in life but mere animal pleasures, – good food, and a good bed, and with no horizon beyond the very day he was then living.

It had not been altogether Formosa that had made him thus…[/quote]

See also [url=http://tw.forumosa.com/t/expat-fiction-1890-1911/3745/1 fiction, 1890-1911[/url].

1 Like

Well, there is this book which generated a lot of heated discussion.

William Arnold “China Gate” Ballantine Books / Random House (1983) ISBN 0-345-30850-6

One of my favorite novels, by film critic Arnold, at the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, who is currently working on the screen play for this book.

Thank you! I will keep on adding the newer stuff onto the original post, to keep everything on one list. (The older stuff seems better to keep separate, but by all means, please keep telling us about it!)

Also, you’ll notice I’ve avoided purely academic or journalistic writings, though some of the travel-writers test the boundary and I’m not altogether confident about how to distinguish these categories from belles-lettres. (Not that all of them are beautiful!)

[quote=“Screaming Jesus”]Thank you! I will keep on adding the newer stuff onto the original post, to keep everything on one list. (The older stuff seems better to keep separate, but by all means, please keep telling us about it!)

Also, you’ll notice I’ve avoided purely academic or journalistic writings, though some of the travel-writers test the boundary and I’m not altogether confident about how to distinguish these categories from belles-lettres. (Not that all of them are beautiful!)[/quote]

Mike O’CONNOR, Poetry collections: The Basin, Life in a Chinese Province (1988) and When the Tiger Weeps (2004)

I remember flipping through “The Basin” in a bookstore (Caves? Scholar?) many years ago and thinking that it looked interesting, but only actually read one or two of the poems.

Edit:
Also, one very interesting US writer who was a long-term resident of Taiwan in the late 80s and 90s is Charles Eisenstein. Many of his essays and an early version of his book “Ascent of Humanity” are available on-line and (Ascent of Humanity is also available in print through Amazon).

Also, as far as periodicals: “Taiwanease” edited by Forumosa’s Taffy published some well-written essays that could be counted in the belles-lettres category.

Another rather interesting read is “Painting the Borrowed House” by Kate Rogers. Published by Proverse Hong Kong (2008) ISBN 978-988-99668-4-3
Kate has lived in Taiwan, China, and now lives in Hong Kong. The book is poetry and pictures, based on her experiences in all three places.

I had a copy and remember thinking the poems were excellent.

Linda Gail Arrigo and Lynn Miles. A Borrowed Voice. Hanyao Color Printing Co. 2008, Taipei.

This is essential reading for anyone who wants to understand Taiwanese politics and history. Lynn’s chapter is elegant and engrossing. You can get a copy at the the Taiwan bookstore. taiouan.com.tw/

The House of Lim by Margery Wolf

The OP asked about literature. If the definition extends to travel writing/memoirs then the books of Steven Crook, John Ross and Joshua Samuel Brown deserve a mention.

[quote=“Feiren”]Linda Gail Arrigo and Lynn Miles. A Borrowed Voice. Hanyao Color Printing Co. 2008, Taipei.

This is essential reading for anyone who wants to understand Taiwanese politics and history. Lynn’s chapter is elegant and engrossing. You can get a copy at the the Taiwan bookstore. taiouan.com.tw/[/quote]

That sounds interesting.

Travel writing is like being stuck in a bar with my dad’s friends.

There was a literary magazine published here, maybe still is called Pressed or something. It had some really good stuff in it.

Edit: I see there’s a link to it in the OP.

I loved that book. Served as primer for my future family relations.