Wild Kids

Two Novels About Growing Up

Chang Ta-chun. Translated by Michael Berry

Columbia University Press

Wild Kids

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Pub Date: February 2002

ISBN: 9780231120975

272 Pages

Format: Paperback

List Price: $27.00

Pub Date: August 2000

ISBN: 9780231120968

272 Pages

Format: Hardcover

List Price: $80.00

Pub Date: August 2000

ISBN: 9780231500050

272 Pages

Format: E-book

List Price: $26.99

Wild Kids

Two Novels About Growing Up

Chang Ta-chun. Translated by Michael Berry

Columbia University Press

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, World Literature Today

Ghoulish, playful, totally subversive.

Emily Gordon, Newsday

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.

Maureen McLane, The New York Times Book Review

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.

Publishers Weekly

It's a considerable feat to have kids spout off about existentialism and not have them sound pretentious. Or high.

Barbara Spindel, Spin

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, VirtualChina.com

This novel will inevitably invite comparisons with the classic The Catcher in the Rye.

Philippines Today

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.

Martin Wong, Giant Robot Magazine

Chang Ta-chun is Taiwan's most talented, unruly, and ultimately playful writer. Like the mischievous Monkey (who makes a mockery of Heaven) in the classical Chinese novel Journey to the West, Chang has repeatedly created quite a ruckus on the contemporary literary scene. He has always been able to tap into a dynamic youthful energy while, at the same time, possessing the rare ability to offer insight into the nature of what it means to be alive. Combine these two qualities and you have Wild Kids, an addictive little literary treasure.

Mo Yan, author of The Republic of Wine and Red Sorghum

On the surface, this fully engaging novel written by Chang Ta-chun, one of the most critically acclaimed and popularly successful writers in Taiwan today, is a fantastic adventure story featuring a middle-class teenage boy of divorced parents in Taipei's underground criminal circle. The narrative delights with its many twists and turns at the textual level, consisting of ingeniously crafted plot and disarmingly pungent and witty commentaries. While the universal 'rite of passage'theme of the adolescent quest for the wisdom of life is rendered with Chang's hallmark postmodern cynicism, the author has simultaneously registered his deep sense of disillusionment with the degenerating social and political life in post–martial law Taiwan.

Sung-sheng Yvonne Chang, coeditor of Bamboo Shoots After the Rain: Contemporary Stories by Women Writers of Taiwan
Translator's Introduction
My Kid Sister
A Present Just for Me
A New Breed of Woman
First Love
Her Taboo
On Treatment
All That Remains Is Our Shell of Flesh
Listening Intently and Telling Stories
The Awakening of Laughter
Chronicle of Death
Ending in Insanity
Wild Child
The Beginning
In the Streets
In the Heart of the Night
The Handgun
The Past
On the Rooftop
The Hotel
The Port
The Poster
The Window
From Birth
The Celebrity
The Adoption
The Negotiation
The Birthday
And Supposing

About the Author

Chang Ta-chun is among Taiwan's premier contemporary authors. His prolific and varied output has transformed him from a cult literary figure into a virtual celebrity in Taiwan, where he produces and hosts a television program on literature. He has published twenty-one books since his emergence on the literary scene almost two decades ago and has taught at the Iowa Writer's Workshop. He lives in Taiwan and maintains a home in Iowa, where he spends several months of the year.Michael Berry is a doctoral candidate in modern Chinese literature at Columbia University. He is the translator of several works, including the forthcoming novel To Live by Yu Hua.