The Thirty-fifth Wu San Lien Literary Awards, Category of Novel
LI Ang was born in 1952 in the town of Lugang of Zhanghua County Taiwan as SHI Shuduan. In 1968 she entered the literary scene of Taiwan with her first short story “Flower Season,” and since then, Li Ang has been challenging the boundary of social constraints and taboos with an uncompromising philosophy of “going forward against tens of thousands.” She is brilliant at scalpel-like dissection of the psyche of her characters, depicting their images of the time and tackling social issues, and these incisive depictions and discourse in her writing clearly have reflected her critical mind and insightful observations of the world. Her groundbreaking boldness in exploring a new frontier of literature especially deserves the attention and admiration. Each of her new books has opened up a new subject for discussion, which is not only an indication of the writer’s high level of self-awareness, but also the writer’s aggressive expansion of her writing styles as a Taiwanese fiction writer. Most of all, it has triggered a different landscape of literary criticism in Taiwan.
Li Ang’s continuously searching for explosive subjects for her writing constantly causes controversy and criticisms from others, but all the arguments only have shown us her cutting-edge ideas and progressive thinking. What is astonishing is that the subject matter of her fiction is cleverly intertwined with the political, economical and social developments in a dynamic time period. Her most attention grabbing texts on female body and erotic writing are codes for trauma and symbols of defiance, and they are powerful weapons to satirize Taiwanese politics and society. From her The Butcher’s Wife, Lost Garden, Autobiography: A Novel, Beigang Incense Burner of Lust, Visible Ghosts to An Erotic Feast for Lovebirds, Marriage in Seven Lives: Entangled Love Affair of Taiwanese/Mainlander, Possession and so on, in each work, she clearly takes a critical perspective on the history, society, politics, class, gender and identity of Taiwan. Through sexual desire, national allegory, space and landscape, ghost spirits/ power, gourmet food/domination, Li Ang deconstructs the structure of old Taiwanese society, rebels against patriarchal culture, stimulates female independent awareness, and gives a true account of difficult issues and social aspects during the process of Taiwan’s modernization. She also reexamines the history and politics of Taiwan from an ordinary woman’s point of view, and in the midst of entanglements of sexual desire and politics; she constructs a strange and perplexing scene of a-hundred-year long Taiwanese history and an imagination of a wishful nation from both sides of Taiwan Straits. Li Ang’s fictional artistry efforts are quite commendable, ranging from adopting themes from folklores; employing the special traits of epistolary style in fiction writing and creating a polar opposition of “looking/ being looked at,” “speaking/ being spoken to,” “eating/ being eaten,” to using tremendous amount of parenthetical expressions in the texts to create enough extraneous sounds that cannot be ignored. Each of her novels is filled with rich symbols, metaphors and significance, and therefore her novels are constantly followed with interest and being discussed.
In her more than forty-year writing career, Li Ang has continued to dig out more space for discourse for women writers, and many of her novels have been translated into many languages. Her determination and efforts for literature not only has carved out a space for Taiwanese literature in the international literary scene, but also exerts considerable influence within the country and overseas. She rightfully deserves the recognition. We, the committee, have chosen Ms. LI Ang to be the winner of the Thirty-fifth Wu San Lien Literary Awards.
(Provided by Wu San Lien Awards Foundation)