Zero and Other Fictions (Hardcover)
Columbia University Press, 9780231157407, 152pp.
Publication Date: October 11, 2011
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Huang Fan burst onto Taiwan's literary scene in the 1980s, publishing pointed urban portraits and political satires that captured the reading public's attention. After decades of innovative work, he is now one of Asia's most celebrated authors, crucial to understanding the development of Taiwanese literature over the past fifty years. The first collection of Huang Fan's work to appear in English, this anthology includes Zero, a prize-winning dystopian novella echoing George Orwell's chilling 1984. Set in a postapocalyptic world, Zero features Xi De, a young man raised in an elite community who risks everything to challenge his society's charismatic leader and technocratic rule. Huang Fan's novella poignantly illustrates the quandary of an idealistic man trapped among conflicting claims to truth, unsure whether to think of himself as heroic or foolish in his ultimate choice of resistance and sacrifice. This anthology also features three critically acclaimed short stories: "Lai Suo," which established Huang Fan's reputation as a groundbreaking author; "The Intelligent Man"; and "How to Measure the Width of a Ditch." In "Lai Suo," a naive individual becomes the pawn of powerful men intent on political advancement. In "How to Measure the Width of a Ditch," an unreliable narrator spins an absurdist, metafictional tale of his childhood in Taipei, and in "The Intelligent Man," Huang Fan weaves an allegorical satire about political reunification set against a backdrop of Taiwanese migration to the United States, with a trenchant look at expanding business interests in mainland China and Southeast Asia. All together, these remarkable works portray the tensions and aspirations of modern Taiwan.
About the Author
Huang Fan (b. 1950) is a prominent Taiwanese writer who gained recognition in the 1980s with his short story "Lai Suo." From 1993 to 2002, he retreated to a monastery to study Buddhist scripture, refusing all contact with the outside world. He subsequently recaptured the world's attention with the publication of "Impatient Country," "College Thief," and "Surmising a Cat," and has since won every major literary award offered in Taiwan. John Balcom is an award-winning translator of Chinese literature, philosophy, and children's books. He teaches translation at the Monterey Institute of International Studies, where he ran the Chinese program for many years. Publications include Taiwan's Indigenous Writers: An Anthology of Stories, Essays, and Poems, and There's Nothing I Can Do When I Think of You Late at Night by Cao Naiqian, both of which won a Northern California Book Award.