New edition of renowned ‘Taipei People’ celebrates 50th anniversary

A hardcover collector's edition of Pai Hsien-yung's (???) "Taipei People" (???) was released Saturday to celebrate the book's 50th anniversary and commemorate one of the most highly regarded works of Chinese fiction of the 20th century.

Published in 1971, "Taipei People" is a collection of 14 short stories about people who came from China to Taiwan in the 1950s and their life in Taipei.

It was ranked No. 7 among the 100 best works of Chinese literature of the 20th century by Asia Weekly (Yazhou Zhoukan) in 1999, and is now available in 30 other languages after being first translated into English in 1982.

Some of the stories, such as "A Touch of Green" (???) and "The Last Night of Taipan Chin" (????????) were turned into a popular television drama or movie.

During the launch party in Taipei for the new release, the 84-year-old Pai said the stories in the book are inspired by his childhood and experiences as a child during World War II and the Chinese Civil War.

Pai was born in China, but moved to Hong Kong in 1948 as the Communists gained the upper hand in the civil war and resettled in Taiwan with his family in 1952.

He would later go to the United States in 1963 and has spent most of his time there since.

"I wrote 'Taipei People' to describe the vicissitudes and ordeals of my parents' generation on their behalf. I understood their pain," Pai said.

"I don't know how I wrote about so much sorrow at such a young age," said Pai, who wrote many of the stories in his 20s and published the book at the age of 34. "It was a mysterious process."

Liao Chih-feng (???), the editor-in-chief of Asian Culture, which published another iconic Pai work, "Crystal Boys," said "Taipei People" may be a work of fiction but its expressions of loss and insecurity about home, nation and identity reflect Pai's connection with reality.

The new hardcover edition comes with a new foreword written by Pai, along with several pictures and Pai's literary chronology. The characters on the cover are drawn by famous calligraphy artist Tong Yang-tze (???). It was released in Chinese only.

Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel