Two Novels About Growing Up
These two searingly funny and unsettling portraits of teenagers beyond the control and largely beneath the notice of adults in 1980s Taiwan are the first English translations of works by Taiwan's most famous and best-selling literary cult figure. Chang Ta-chun's intricate narrative and keen, ironic sense of humor poignantly and piercingly convey the disillusionment and cynicism of modern Taiwanese youth.
Interweaving the events between the birth of the narrator's younger sister and her abortion at the age of nineteen, the first novel, My Kid Sister, evokes the complex emotional impressions of youth and the often bizarre social dilemmas of adolescence. Combining discussions of fate, existentialism, sexual awakening, and everyday "absurdities" in a typically dysfunctional household, it documents the loss of innocence and the deconstruction of a family.
In Wild Child, fourteen-year-old Hou Shichun drops out of school, runs away from home, and descends into the Taiwanese underworld, where he encounters an oddball assortment of similarly lost adolescents in desperate circumstances. This novel will inevitably invite comparisons with the classic The Catcher in the Rye, but unlike Holden Caulfield, Hou isn't given any second chances. With characteristic frankness and irony, Chang's teenagers bear witness to a new form of cultural and spiritual bankruptcy.
Chang is an astute observer and perceptive cultural critic...English readers will easily identify with the sentiments and circumstances portrayed by Chang and skillfully translated by Berry.
Sylvia Li-chun Lin, University of Colorado, Denver
Ghoulish, playful, totally subversive.
In two jaunty, disturbing novellas from Taiwan... Chang Ta-chun presents us with disaffected adolescents who roam city streets, complain about school, fantasize about gangster life, and wear Chicago Bulls T-shirts.
Chang writes accessible, knowing and very funny fiction about youth and screwed-up families--some of the best of its kind.... My Kid Sister... could be America's next teen classic.
It's a considerable feat to have kids spout off about existentialism and not have them sound pretentious. Or high.
Wild Kids turned out to be not only the window on Taiwan I was looking for, but also a quick and enjoyable summer read. It is not without depth nor short of something to sink your teeth into.
Jonathan S. Landreth
This novel will inevitably invite comparisons with the classic The Catcher in the Rye.
Churning out political thrillers, martial arts short stories, hard-boiled detective mysteries, a sci-fi, collection, and just about every other genre since 1976, Chang Ta-chun is a literary celebrity in Taiwan.
My Kid Sister
A Present Just for Me
A New Breed of Woman
All That Remains Is Our Shell of Flesh
Listening Intently and Telling Stories
The Awakening of Laughter
Chronicle of Death
Ending in Insanity
In the Streets
In the Heart of the Night
On the Rooftop