TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — The National Museum of Taiwan Literature (NMTL) on Friday (July 22) exhibited recent projects in publishing Taiwanese literary works internationally, with thirteen books launched in five languages and two book series. Both book series were born out of partnerships with international publishing houses.
Titled “Sharing Taiwan with the world,” the event not only showcased remarkable progress in translating Taiwan's literary works but also explored its significance and challenges along the way.
The museum told Taiwan News that partnerships established with acclaimed international publishers include Cambria Press from the U.S., Sakuhinsha (作品社) from Japan, L'Asiathèque from France, Mi:Lù Publishing from the Czech Republic and Projektverlag from Germany. These led to thirteen translation works between 2020 to 2022, and varied in genres and topics.
These included accounts of the White Terror, an ethnographic novel written by an Indigenous Bunun writer, and anthologies outlining the queer and women's literary landscape in Taiwan.
As he credited the project teams with their success, museum Director Su Shuo-bin proudly recounted book series having been created in the U.S. and Japan – Literature from Taiwan (LifT) in the U.S. and "Taiwan literature book cafe" (台湾文学ブックカフェ) in Japan – with another in Germany also on the way. He added that “we hope these book series will continue even if we partner with different publishing houses in the future.”
“Our goal is clear – to provide accessible channels for all those around the world who want to learn about Taiwan,” said Su.
National Taiwan Normal University Professor Nikky Lin said that what makes the project this time so different is its emphasis on finding the sales channels that ensure books are circulated on the market.
“We want to cultivate a group of foreign readers to understand and love Taiwan literature. Not just in universities, but average readers are also our target,” noted Professor Lin.
On the covers of the book series, Lin noted that “since the Literature from Taiwan Series was curated around certain themes – for instance, the themes for the second year were transitional justice and queer culture – we designed covers that resonate with the themes and that come from prominent Taiwanese artists.” The idea is to also share Taiwan’s art with the world.
The front cover of Transitions in Taiwan, a book that is part of the Literature from Taiwan Series. The image depicts wild lilies, a symbol of democracy in Taiwan, and was painted by Taiwan artist Ou Young Wen (歐陽文), who was himself a victim of the White Terror.
In its introduction to the series, Cambria Press states that the Literature from Taiwan Series “takes us to Taiwan across different periods and offers us rich insights into Taiwan.”
Giving Taiwan a world voice
During the event, several scholars stressed the pertinence of translating and promoting Taiwan literature to the world as a way to give the Taiwanese experience a voice and to connect more deeply on the world stage.
Senior Advisor to the President Sun Ta-chuan (孫大川 or Paelabang Danapan in the Puyuma language), stated that Taiwan has to find its voice and make our feelings and our minds heard.
“When your voice is not heard or understood, it’s as if you do not exist,” he said, associating it to the once stifled history of Taiwan’s Indigenous groups. Sun also added that “it isn’t just about political or economic achievements, but concerns our general cultural power.”
Professor Lin also pointed out that given Taiwan’s diplomatic and political difficulties, Taiwan literature can be a great diplomatic channel through which we share our rich culture with the world.
The event also saw the attendance of the prominent writer Li Ang (李昂), whose books are some of the most widely translated Taiwan literary works, literary agent Gray Tan (譚光磊), Taipei Book Fair Foundations CEO Wang Hsiu-yin (王秀銀) and numerous translation professionals and scholars from Taiwan, Japan, and Europe.
In addition to the showcase and seminar, the museum is also hosting a book exhibition on Taiwan Literature in Translation, opening from July 22 to October 30.
Updated : 2022-08-09 22:59 GMT+08:00
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