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Golden Hour Books

Taiwan Travelogue: A Novel by Shuang-zi Yang (11/12/24)

Taiwan Travelogue: A Novel by Shuang-zi Yang (11/12/24)

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A bittersweet story of love between two women, nested in an artful exploration of language, history, and power

May 1938. The young novelist Aoyama Chizuko has sailed from her home in Nagasaki, Japan, and arrived in Taiwan. She’s been invited there by the Japanese government ruling the island, though she has no interest in their official banquets or imperialist agenda. Instead, Chizuko longs to experience real island life and to taste as much of its authentic cuisine as her famously monstrous appetite can bear.

Soon a Taiwanese woman—who is younger even than she is, and who shares the characters of her name—is hired as her interpreter and makes her dreams come true. The charming, erudite, meticulous Chizuru arranges Chizuko’s travels all over the Land of the South and also proves to be an exceptional cook. Over scenic train rides and braised pork rice, lively banter and winter melon tea, Chizuko grows infatuated with her companion and intent on drawing her closer. But something causes Chizuru to keep her distance. It’s only after a heartbreaking separation that Chizuko begins to grasp what the “something” is.

Disguised as a translation of a rediscovered text by a Japanese writer, this novel was a sensation on its first publication in Mandarin Chinese in 2020 and won Taiwan’s highest literary honor, the Golden Tripod Award. Taiwan Travelogue unburies lost colonial histories and deftly reveals how power dynamics inflect our most intimate relationships.

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