I call them the “Amy Tan Questions.”
Questions like “how do families relate in context of war, distance, and famine?” or “how does a child reconcile the old world of their parents with the new world America in which they live?”. These questions are important, for they are our foundation as a community and give us vignettes of Asian and Asian American history that American public schools neglected. But they are dated, and they are not our stories.
I wanted to see writing that moved beyond these “Amy Tan Questions,” but that was informed by them and built on them. I don’t want to read any more essays on how some white person remarked upon how good someone’s English is, or a tweet on being asked where we’re from. I want to know how a Taiwanese American might connect with their Singaporean Canadian partner and deal with immigration law, or how our viscerally modern parents reconcile with a changed hometown with us children in tow, or how Asian Americans in the Midwest can organize with our Black, Latinx and Muslim counterparts. I want to read about clashes between enclave and isolated Taiwanese Americans, I want to hear about mixed race kids finding acceptance, I want to know about the dynamics in the international queer expat communities around the world. I want to read Taiwanese American millennials being unabashedly themselves while revealing their most complicated vulnerabilities. I want to find sharp commentary on our place in the different geographical contexts we live in, and how our personal lives fit into the context of wider sociopolitical movements. Where do Asian and American feminisms meet? How does my privilege change when I go from LA to Kaohsiung? How do globalism, imperialism, and the movement of capital affect me and my family? These are the new questions reaching up through the cracks of the Amy Tan foundation. These are the ones I want to address.
The idea for a young Taiwanese American experience anthology was born of this desire to grow out of the Asian American movements of the 60s and 70s into something of our own. We stand on the giants of Joy Luck Club and A Bridge Called My Back to have Map of an Onion and Saving Face. The other motivation for this project is to showcase the work of young writers and artists. We’re of broken economies, low bank balances, and delayed adulthood, but guys, my friends are so talented. And because I want to see art that moves me, writing that brings me to tears on the bus, and stories that keep me up at night. I want to make beautiful things. We don’t have mortgages but we do have a firm grasp on reality, a hunger for meaning, and discerning eyes. Let’s make a go at it.
So we’re doing it. We’re putting together a humble, yet ambitious anthology of the Taiwanese diasporic experiences written, curated, and created by young Taiwanese American folks who can connect our past to our present. A real, physical book with pages you can smell, a tangible anchor for our listless feelings. Calling cynical anthropology majors and closeted sci-fi writers posing as actuaries, bartenders with a painting streak and account managers that write screenplays on weekends; we need you. We are particularly welcome of people with indigenous Taiwanese backgrounds, mixed ancestry, and queer/non-binary identities, as well as those with western but non-American upbringings (i.e. Taiwanese New Zealanders, Taiwanese who grew up in the UK, etc). Tell your stories to help us tell ours.
See our call for submissions below:
Call for Submissions: Mini-Anthology on Experiences of the Taiwanese Diaspora
We are curating a print collection of diverse visual and written work by young Taiwanese Americans that shares fresh, new takes on the Taiwanese diasporic experience. This project is driven by our desire to have a gathering place for ideas and insights our socially-conscious peers are generating, and to reach young Taiwanese Americans and other Asian Americans who find common threads in our experiences. It is our way of showcasing emerging writers and artists and, in doing so, encouraging our audience to ask questions and explore new perspectives and topics in this globalizing world.
Call for submissions (writers and visual artists)
For cohesion, this collection’s central theme is “liminality,” or in-betweenness. Robert S. Chang writes that, for many Asian Americans, “identity is understood […] as relational and contingent” and there are many intersecting changes in this concept for Taiwanese Americans. We would like submissions to reimagine what it means to be in the liminal space between identities, times, places, and stages.
For this mini-anthology, we encourage you to be creative, offbeat, and dynamic. We are looking for personal storytelling that is bold but nuanced and that exemplifies current critical thought about social and political issues and shifts in identities. Think along the lines of Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur, The Atlantic (Ta-Nehisi Coates, in particular), Bad Feminist by Roxanne Gay, The Paper Menagerie and Other Stories by Ken Liu, Bloodchild by Octavia Butler, Fresh Off the Boat by Eddie Huang, Citizen by Claudia Rankine, and Ujoma Power (on Medium).
Content will be separated into three sections: fiction, non-fiction, and poetry/verse, with 3-5 pieces in each section. Writers may submit up to three pieces, 2,000 words maximum each, that have not been published elsewhere (with the exception of personal blogs or websites). A group of editors will review each piece to help with clarity, direction, and general copyediting.
Artists may submit up to two pieces of 2-D work in black and white. Selected pieces will be featured in the book as section cover pages; one piece will be selected as the cover art. Works should consider both Asian and Western aesthetic influences and combine them in a way that reflects the theme of liminality and generally be in of portrait (rather than landscape) orientation.
We believe that it is important to pay writers and artists for their work, but as this is a self-funded project, our resources are currently limited. At present, we are offering $10 commission for contributions ($5 on agreement, $5 upon publishing) and a copy of the book. We are only able to compensate one piece per author/artist. If we break even on the costs of self-publishing this first book, we hope to create more and compensate more.
Please send full works to achu190(at)gmail.com by February 19, 2017. If your work is accepted, further information will be emailed to you. Please email any requests for extensions to the email above. Any graphic designers, marketers, and sponsors interested in collaborating should also send emails to the same address above.