TiBE 台北國際書展 2024.2.20-25

"Portraits of Women Writers from Taiwan" Illuminated on a Rainy Night in Berlin by Award-Winning Author Kaori Lai

25 October 2023 /

On the evening of October 24, 2023, celebrated Taiwanese author Kaori Lai (賴香吟), the recipient of the 2022 TLA Annual Golden Grand Laurel Award for her work Portraits in White, published by INK Literary Monthly Publishing Co., Ltd., participated in a dialogue on "Portraits of Women Writers from Taiwan" with renowned German translator Marc Hermann in Berlin.

During this atmospheric discussion, Kaori Lai provided unique perspectives on her 30-year journey as a writer, likening her writing career to a marathon with its current stage being one of comfort and ease. The event delved into the transformation of Taiwanese women's literature over the past three decades, exploring its evolution from early themes of military and anti-communism to a more diverse range of voices.

The discussion, focusing on the theme of "Portraits of women writers from Taiwan," delved into the evolution of Taiwanese women's literature over the past 30 years. Early Taiwanese literature often centered on military and anti-communist themes, predominantly from a male perspective. Female writers were initially constrained to topics like daily life, family, childhood memories, gentle styles, nostalgic sentiments, or modernist and dreamlike genres. According to Kaori Lai, this period created a small window for Taiwanese women's writing in a big era, capturing readers' attention without much political focus.

The conversation continued to explore the contributions of various Taiwanese female writers, with notable examples being Kuo Liang-hui (郭良慧) and San Mao (三毛). Kuo faced societal criticism for taboo subjects, leading her to close a window in her writing, while San Mao expressed freedom and travel, symbolically opening a new window as she ventured into the world.

Translator Marc Hermann, known for translating the works of renowned author Eileen Chang (張愛玲), emphasized the importance of translation as applied literature. He identified himself as a German literary figure rather than a traditional sinologist, highlighting the significance of underlying thoughts in translation, transcending language and text.

Drawing on his translation of Eileen Chang (張愛玲), Hermann characterized her as a representative of post-feminism, transcending the label of solely being a female writer. Additionally, he discussed the challenges of translating Taiwanese works, citing Cheng Wen (鄭問)'s comics as particularly challenging due to their deep historical and philosophical roots.

The event concluded with Kaori Lai captivating the audience with a reading from her work, Fictional 1987 《虛構一九八七》, included in the anthology Von Wahrsagern und Technofrauen- Erzählungen zeitgenössischer Autorinnen aus Taiwan《卜算子與科技人妻:台灣當代女作家短篇小說選集》. As the rain outside quietly ceased, the audience remained immersed in the enchanting narrative.