The Taste of Apples

The Taste of Apples

The Taste of Apples

The Taste of Apples

Synopsis

From the preeminent writer of Taiwanese nativist fiction and the leading translator of Chinese literature come these poignant accounts of everyday life in rural and small-town Taiwan. Huang is frequently cited as one of the most original and gifted storytellers in the Chinese language, and these selections reveal his genius. In "The Two Sign Painters," TV reporters ambush two young workers from the country taking a break atop a twenty-four-story building. "His Son's Big Doll" introduces the tortured soul inside a walking advertisement, and in "Xiaoqi's Cap" a dissatisfied pressure-cooker salesman is fascinated by a young schoolgirl. Huang's characters -- generally the uneducated and disadvantaged who must cope with assaults on their traditionalism, hostility from their urban brethren and, of course, the debilitating effects of poverty -- come to life in all their human uniqueness, free from idealization.

Excerpt

In regard to the mastery of modern Chinese—known as guoyu, or “national language,” in Taiwan and putonghua, or “common language,” on the Chinese mainland—Taiwan was a relative latecomer. Guoyu's widespread use dates from the end of World War II, following Taiwan's retrocession to China. But the return of the language after half a century of Japanese colonial rule was accomplished by the transplanted Nationalist government only after a concerted effort to promote it and to force the local dialect into disuse. Like all colonial powers, the government carried out its political agenda with utter disregard for ethnic friction and ideological opposition.

The first generation of Taiwanese to write in acceptable guoyu rather than a Chinese remake of Japanese, and who were permitted to publish their works openly, did not appear until the early 1960s. I was one of those writers. But though we had some proficiency, we were denied a rich environment in which to let our language mature, particularly where ideology was concerned. In middle school, we had an insatiable thirst for literature, even if we were too young to understand and appreciate what . . .

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