Magazine article Chinese Literature Today

Chu T'ien-Wen: Winner of the 2015 Newman Prize for Chinese Literature

Magazine article Chinese Literature Today

Chu T'ien-Wen: Winner of the 2015 Newman Prize for Chinese Literature

Article excerpt

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Chu T'ien-wen ... (Zhu Tianwen) is one of the most prominent screenwriters and fiction writers in contemporary Taiwan. She was born in 1956 into a distinguished literary family: her father is the celebrated military writer Chu Hsi-ning and her mother, Liu Musha

... , is a translator of Japanese literary works. The three girls born into this family all grew up to become writers.

Chu T'ien-wen and her younger sister, Chu T'ien-hsin ... , started writing at age sixteen when they were high school students, and immediately became best-selling authors in Taiwan. When Chu T'ien-wen was a junior in the Department of English at Tamkang University, she cofounded The Threes journal (Sansan jikan ... and The Threes Bookstore Publisher (Sansan shufang ... ) with her sister and friends.

Chu's early works in the 1970s and early 1980s consist mainly of sentimental short stories about adolescent life or essays expressing her longing for China, the "motherland." In 1983, directors Hou Hsiao-hsien ... and Chen Kun-hou ... invited Chu to cowrite the script for Growing Up (Xiaobi de gushi ... , one of the founding films of the Taiwan New Cinema movement. This led to Chu's longtime collaboration with Hou Hsiao-hsien on almost all of Hou's films.

In this section, readers will find Michael Berry's interview with Chu, in which she discusses her early literary career; her mentor, Hu Lancheng ЙЛАЙ; her award-winning novel Notes of a Desolate Man (Huangren shouji ... ); and her career in screenwriting and collaboration with director Hou Hsiao-hsien. Berry's interview was originally conducted and published in Chinese in his recent book Boiling the Sea: Hou Hsiao-hsien's Memories of Shadow and Light (Zhuhai shiguang: Hou Xiaoxian de guangying jilu ... .

Chu's collaboration with Taiwan's New Cinema directors had a profound influence on her literary style. In the mid 1980s, Chu shifted her focus from the imagined homeland (that only exists in traditional Chinese culture) to the socio-historical reality of contemporary Taiwan. Her 1990 short story collection Fin de siecle Splendor (Shijimo de huali...), in the words of scholar Ban Wang, "captures the spirit, smells, colors, textures, and, above all, the genie of Taiwan urban life," and was widely acclaimed by critics. Her first novel, Notes of a Desolate Man, won the China Times Million Dollar Prize for Fiction in 1994. In 2008 Chu published her second novel, Witch's Brew (Wuyan . …

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