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September 2021: Lo Yi-Chin 駱以軍

Lo Yi-Chin is an acclaimed Taiwanese writer, the recipient of numerous honors including the Hong Lou Meng Award and Taiwan Literary Award. Born in Taiwan in 1967, Lo Yi-Chin holds degrees from the Chinese Culture University and the National Institute of the Arts in Taiwan. His novels include Kuang ChaorenDaughterWestern Xia HotelSurname of the Moon, and The Third Dancer.

This month, as part of our 2021 Taiwan focus, we're delighted to feature Lo Yi-chin, with his story 'Zeus', translated by Nicky Harman, and first published in Peregrine, the English language supplement of Chutzpah magazine, in 2013, edited by Ou Ning. You can read the original here, and Nicky's translation here.

The English translation of Lo's novel《远方》, Farawayalso comes out this September from Columbia University Press, translated by Jeremy Tiang. We're very excited to see this, as it's the first full-length English translation of his work.

Here's a little information from the publisher about the novel:

Faraway is a beautiful meditation on the nature of family, and the many ways in which blood and nationality can both unite and divide us.

In Faraway, a fictionalized version of Lo Yi-Chin finds himself stranded in mainland China attempting to bring his comatose father home. Lo’s father had fled decades ago, abandoning his first family to start a new life in Taiwan. After travel between the two countries becomes politically possible, he returns to visit the son he left behind, only to suffer a stroke. The middle-aged protagonist ventures to China, where he embarks on a protracted struggle with the byzantine hospital regulations while dealing with relatives he barely knows. Meanwhile, back in Taiwan, his wife is about to give birth to their second child. Isolated in a foreign country, Lo mulls over his life, dwelling on his difficult relationship with his father and how becoming a father himself has changed him. Lo brings a keen sense of irony and sensitivity to everyday absurdity to his depiction of both family dynamics and fraught politics, offering a deft portrayal of the rift between China and Taiwan through an intimate view of a father-son relationship that bridges this divide.

A review this week in The New York Times says of the book; "The term “Kafkaesque” gets overused, but it’s hard to imagine another word that so thoroughly captures the dynamics in the Taiwanese writer Lo Yi-Chin’s “Faraway”: a traveler navigating a country that maintains, as a matter of policy, that his own country doesn’t exist."

If you're interested in finding out more about Lo Yi-chin, there's an introduction from translator Steven Bradbury here, alongside an excerpt from Lo's novel Now She Remains in You, translated by Alvin Leung Tze Shun.

And we'll be featuring Faraway on our Book Review Network in the coming months. We're always on the lookout for new members, so please get in touch if you'd like to join!