It would be a bit self-serving to suggest books I’ve been involved in publishing (though there really are some great titles there, and I always recommend Formosan Odyssey to newcomers), so I’m excluding those. Can I have one book each for fiction and non-fiction?
The Man with the Compound Eyes
From the review in the Guardian:
It is easy to see why Wu’s English-language publishers compare his latest novel to the work of Murakami and David Mitchell. His writing occupies the space between hard-edged realism and extravagantly detailed fantasy, hovering over the precipice of wild imagination before retreating to minutiae about Taiwanese fauna or whale-hunting. Semi-magical events occur throughout the novel: people and animals behave in mysterious ways without quite knowing why they are doing so; and, in a Murakami-esque touch, there’s even a prominent cat. But beyond these superficial similarities lies an earnest, politically conscious novel, anchored in ecological concerns and Taiwanese identity.
It is also superbly translated by Darryl Sterk.
Statecraft and Political Economy on the Taiwan Frontier, 1600–1800
John Robert Shepherd
While this tome is richly detailed and packed with statistics, Shepherd is nevertheless able to draw a coherent picture of the complex development of early modern Taiwan from just before the Dutch arrived to around halfway through Qing dynasty rule. It’s not a casual read, but if you’re interested in gaining a deeper understanding this period of Taiwanese history it’s a must-read. It significantly altered my perception of Taiwan and its history.