Chang Yu-Ko was a clinical physician before winning multiple prestigious awards for his television scripts in his mid-twenties. He later turned his hand to fiction and is now regarded as a rising star in Taiwanese literature. Whisper was originally published in Chinese in 2018 and is his English language debut.
Bio from Honford Star
This month we’re delighted to present an extract from the novel Whisper, by Chang Yu-ko, and translated by Roddy Flagg. The translation is published this month by Honford Star. You can read the extract in English here, and in Chinese here.
Victims all describe hearing a voice before they die gruesomely. Sometimes it’s singing an old Taiwanese song, sometimes it’s in Japanese, and sometimes it’s an anguished call for help from a loved one. Can Wu Shih-Sheng, a degenerate taxi driver in Taipei, hunt down the source of the voice that killed his wife before he becomes the next victim?
Whisper is a plot-driven, Taiwanese horror story. As well as being a chilling read, Chang Yu-Ko cleverly combines Taiwanese folklore, the Japanese occupation of Taiwan, and the long-term mistreatment of the country’s aboriginal people into a story of how the past can still kill.
You can read more about the novel in this review by Serena De Marchi in the Asian Review of Books.
The weaving of… historical details and cultural references into the plot of the novel contributes to the emotional tri-dimensionality of the characters, both the humans, but also, more interestingly, the non-humans. In other words, the whispers are not just immaterial manifestations from some otherworldly reality, but are given a very concrete—and burdensome—historical significance.
Roddy Flagg is a freelance translator living in Edinburgh, Scotland. He has translated a range of work by mainland and Taiwanese authors, including stories from Diao Dou and Chen Chongzheng for Pathlight magazine and The Sniper, a thriller by Chang Kuo-Li.
We’re also very happy that Taylor Bradley, from Honford Star, will be taking part in our symposium on Taiwan fiction, discussing Taiwan fiction from a publishing perspective.