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National Book Award Winner Charles Yu establishes prize for young Taiwanese American creative writers


THE BETTY L. YU AND JIN C. YU CREATIVE WRITING PRIZES is pleased to announce the inaugural Betty L. Yu and Jin C. Yu Creative Writing Prizes. Created in collaboration with Taiwanese American author Charles Yu, the Prizes are intended to encourage and recognize creative literary work by Taiwanese American high school and college students, and to foster discussion and community around such work.

Submissions may be in any literary genre including fiction, poetry, personal essays or other creative non-fiction. Submissions must be sent via Google Form and must be received by March 31, 2021 at 11:59PM PT. In order to be eligible, submissions must be from writers of Taiwanese heritage (or writers with other significant connection to Taiwan), or have subject matter otherwise relevant to the Taiwanese or Taiwanese American experience. 

Submissions will be considered in two categories, High School (enrolled in high school as of the deadline) and College (enrolled in community college or as an undergraduate as of the deadline). Winners and finalists will be announced in May 2021. A total of $1500 will be awarded to the winners. In addition, each of the winners and finalists will have their submitted work published online by and considered for publication in a future edition of Chrysanthemum, and offered the opportunity to participate in an individual mentoring session with one of the judges.

The judges for the 2021 Prizes are:

Shawna Yang Ryan, photographed by Anna Wu

Shawna Yang Ryan is a Taiwanese American novelist, short story writer and creative writing professor, who has published the novels Water Ghosts and Green Island. She currently teaches in the Creative Writing Program at the University of Hawai’i at Manoa. 

Charles Yu, photographed by Tina Chiou

Charles Yu is a Taiwanese American writer. He is the author of the novels How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe and Interior Chinatown as well as the short-story collections Third Class Superhero and Sorry Please Thank You. In 2020, he received the National Book Award for Fiction.

The Prizes are named in honor of Betty Lin Yu and Jin-Chyuan Yu for their service to the Taiwanese-American community, including establishment of TACL LID Youth Camp in Southern California, co-founding of the South Bay Taiwanese-American School, the first school in the United States specifically for the purpose of Taiwanese Language instruction, establishment of North America Taiwanese Engineering Association, Southern California Chapter (NATEA-SC) and longtime support for other organizations including Formosa Association for Public Affair (FAPA), North America Taiwanese Women Association (NATWA), and Taiwan American Association (TAA).

Betty Lin Yu and Jin-Chyuan Yu (photograph provided by Charles Yu)
Writer Charles Yu with his parents, Betty Lin Yu and Jin-Chyuan Yu (photograph provided by Charles Yu)


Please direct all inquiries to [email protected]

The press kit for this award may be found here.

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Author to Author: A Chat with Charles Yu – How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe

Author Shawna Yang Ryan, on behalf of, interviews fellow Taiwanese American author Charles Yu during his recent book tour.

Charles Yu’s debut novel How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe is a funny, quirky, touching story of a time machine repairman, also named Charles Yu. Set in a science fiction universe, the story cleverly deals with issues of family, the father son relationship, the immigrant experience, regret, and the human tendency to be forever fixated on the past, all the while maintaining a light touch and a smart sense of humor. It’s a cleverly written piece, a quick read, and a great use of the science fiction genre. Here’s a quote from the book:

People rent time machines.
They think they can change the past.
Then they get there and find out causality doesn’t work the way they thought it did. They get stuck, stuck in places they didn’t mean to go, in places they did mean to go, in places they shouldn’t have tried to go. They get into trouble. Logical, metaphysical, etc.
That’s where I come in. I go and get them out.

Charles Yu received the National Book Foundation’s 5 Under 35 Award for his story collection Third Class Superhero, and he has also received the Sherwood Anderson Fiction Award. His work has been published in the Harvard Review, The Gettysburg Review, Alaska Quarterly Review, Mississippi Review, and Mid-American Review, among other journals.

How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe is available online and in major bookstores everywhere.

Check out these recent reviews & interviews:

Meet & Greet / Book Reading with Author Charles Yu in Berkeley, CA

Date: Friday, September 24, 2010
Time: 6:00pm – 9:00pm
Location: Books Inc.
Address: 1760 4th St., Berkeley, CA
Facebook event page:

Taiwanese American author Charles Yu received the National Book Foundation’s 5 Under 35 Award for his story collection “Third Class Superhero,” and he has also received the Sherwood Anderson Fiction Award. His work has been published in the Harvard Review, The Gettysburg Review, Alaska Quarterly Review, Mississippi Review, and Mid-American Review, among other journals.

His critically-acclaimed and highly anticipated new novel, “How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe,” is now available and has been receiving outstanding reviews!

Join Ho Chie Tsai, the creator of, in supporting his book tour across the west coast and giving him a warm welcome when he stops through Berkeley (his only Bay area stop) for a meet & greet / book reading / autograph session!

Come meet me and other friends for coffee or tea at the Peet’s Coffee just next door to the bookstore before the event starts. I’ll also see if I can secure some time with him just for us before the event.

– Peet’s Coffee hangout at 6 pm.
– The book reading / signing event starts at 7 pm at Books, Inc.

Books, Inc is located in the heart of the 4th Street shops on the west side of Berkeley, just off of Highway 80, near University Ave.

New York Times review: review:

SF Signal review:

Time Magazine “Things to Do” List:,28804,1952673_2016033_2016020,00.html

GQ Magazine interview:

Author Charles Yu on Tour for New Novel: “How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe”

video from

Taiwanese American author Charles Yu received the National Book Foundation’s 5 Under 35 Award for his story collection Third Class Superhero, and he has also received the Sherwood Anderson Fiction Award. His work has been published in the Harvard Review, The Gettysburg Review, Alaska Quarterly Review, Mississippi Review, and Mid-American Review, among other journals.

His critically-acclaimed and highly anticipated new novel, How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe, will be available starting September 7, 2010.

Check out these recent reviews & interviews:

Want to catch him in person? Here are his scheduled readings / book signings:

9/20/2010 7:30 PM
SKYLIGHT BOOKS reading/launch party

9/21/2010 7 PM

9/22/2010 7 PM
SEATTLE, WA 98106-5809

9/22/2010 4:00 PM
1521 10th Ave

9/23/2010 7:30 PM

9/24/2010 7 PM
1760 4TH ST

9/27/2010 7 PM
NEW YORK, NY 10012

9/28/2010 7 PM

10/9/2010 2 PM

For updates or other scheduled readings, visit:

A Chat with Actor Kelvin Yu

I recently met up with Taiwanese American actor and friend Kelvin Yu in Los Angeles. I’ve known him for years, even before he started his acting career, so it has been a privilege to see him find success in Hollywood over the past decade.

Kelvin’s studies range from the UCLA School of Theater, Film, and Television to London University at Goldsmiths in New Cross to Carter-Thor Studios in Los Angeles. Television credits include Popular, The Shield, Without a Trace, Gilmore Girls, ER, Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip, and others. In addition to several independent film roles and theater pieces, his film credits include Grandma’s Boy, Elizabethtown, and the upcoming movie Milk.

With the buzz in the air over Oscar-worthy performances by the cast of Milk, even before its release, I thought it was an opportune time to catch up a little bit with Kelvin and have him share his past and present experiences and projects!


HoChie: Hi Kelvin, thanks for joining me today and sharing your time with the audience of!

Kelvin: Good to be with you.

HoChie: So tell me a little bit about yourself. When did you develop your interest in acting?

Kelvin: I would say my interest in acting officially arrived when I was 13 years old. I discovered ancient magical acting rocks in my backyard and I ate them. Just kidding.

HoChie: Oh man! This is going to be one of those interviews… [Laughs] That’s OK, you and I go a long way back with the Taiwanese American summer camps in the early 90’s. So, yeah, I’ll, uh, bear with you. [Laughs] But go on. Magical rocks.

Kelvin: Actually, a teacher suggested I audition for a school play. Not the most exciting story. It didn’t take much though. From that point on, I don’t think I ever seriously considered pursuing another profession. I studied acting in college and began working not long after that.

HoChie: Cool. Where did you grow up? And what was it like for you as a young Taiwanese American at the time?

Kelvin: I grew up in Los Angeles proper among mostly Latino and African-American peers until junior high. From there, we moved to a suburb which was essentially split 50% Caucasian and 50% Asian-American. So my first real exposure to Taiwanese-American friends or classmates wasn’t until I was a teenager. Prior to that, I was pretty sure I was Mexican. My parents were always very politically in touch and culturally committed to the Taiwanese identity. Much of my understanding of my own heritage came straight from my father.

HoChie: I hear you on that. I think it’s a common experience to figure out identity by exploring cultural roots and considering the environment you grow up in. I want to hear more about your acting experiences. One of your first roles was in the WB show Popular. How did you land that role, and what was that experience like? Did it open doors for you?

Kelvin: I was lucky. Often times, there is a long and arduous process for actors that involves red tape and logistical hurdles. I’m talking about entering the union, finding representation, building up a list of credits, etc. My very first audition came from a close friend who eventually became one of my agents and also happens to be Taiwanese-American. There was a breakdown for a high school aged Chinese boy and I was only 19 at the time and I guess, if the shoe fits… There was very little pressure considering it was my first audition ever and I think good things happen when you’re relaxed. Long story short, it was a recurring role on a sold series and I suddenly found myself in the union, with a great agent, and with several episodes of a network show under my belt. I don’t know if I would honestly have been willing to go through the grinder that most people go through. I don’t know if I would have had the constitution for extra work or the persistence to chase after agents and managers. It just happened very serendipitously for me and, yeah, I’m pretty grateful for that.

HoChie: Who were your mentors and role models?

Kelvin: My mentor is my sen-sai and my role model is Bruce Lee. No, really, the best mentor I could ever hope to have is probably my older brother. This is a profession of highs and lows, on every level I think, and there’s nothing more important than having someone who simply believes in you– often times, confidence can be a scarce commodity. He also happens to be a gifted writer, which is something I’ve always admired. As far as other role models, I tend to be fascinated with people in other fields. Tiger Woods is probably the guy who makes me want to get out of bed in the morning most often– and I don’t even play golf very well. I’m in utter disbelief at his mental discipline, his general ability to focus under pressure. Honestly, it’s something I think about a lot. I also have a mild obsession with David Axelrod right now. He seems like the smartest guy in the room.

HoChie: You’ve come a long way over the years, and most recently you acted alongside Sean Penn in the upcoming movie Milk. I hear that the reviews have been great! What was that experience like?

Kelvin: I don’t remember. I was heavily medicated for most of it. I slept a lot.

HoChie: Haha! Be serious, dude! We’re trying to have a legit interview here, Bruce Lee #2!

Kelvin: OK, sorry. I’ll try to be more serious. This was the first time I’ve worked on something that felt important–with a capital I. Movies are great, television is great. But at the end of the day, these media are forms of entertainment. If you lose sight of that, if you start to think of it as more than entertainment, you’re dead in the water. But every once in a while, you get the opportunity to make a film that can clearly change the way people think about something. We may not change anyone’s opinion with this film, but at the very least, we have a chance to take people into a world in which they might not normally spend two hours. The cherry on top is that the planets are aligning for this kind of movie. We’ve elected our first minority president, California has just eliminated civil rights for some of its populace. The climate is very political and one of the headlines is homosexuality– this is a very exciting time for a movie like this. I think people are interested. And yes, the movie is great.

HoChie: I definitely agree! In California, with the recent controversies overProposition 8, the movie will have a timely opening later this month and maybe draw some additional attention! What are folks saying behind the scenes?

Kelvin: We’re all excited. It’s funny, we premiered the film in San Francisco a few weeks ago. And then we premiered it in Los Angeles two days ago. In between those two premieres, the world changed. The election happened and Prop 8 passed. Seeing the movie the other night was like a totally new experience in light of the events of November 4th. There’s just no way to see this movie without viewing it through the lens of what’s going on right now. I have my opinions about Proposition 8, but I think more importantly, what’s exciting is that we are watching democracy at work and people feel a sense of personal empowerment when it comes to their votes. The tradition of our country is a progressive movement toward individual liberties. Next in line is probably gay marriage and I think it’s not that big a coincidence that this movie is coming out right now. It’s just the zeitgeist, I guess. Ang Lee’s Brokeback Mountain was “groundbreaking” three years ago. Today, it just seems tame, in a way. The country’s sensibility moves, it evolves, and I think all of this is happening simultaneously for a reason.

HoChie: Very wise words indeed. It will be interesting to see this movement progress. I have another question. Most people only see the “glamor” of Hollywood, but don’t see the realities of life as a working actor. What has it been like for you?

Kelvin: Totally glamorous. I’m basically the Asian male version of Beyonce… To be honest, I don’t consider it that different from a lot of industries. There is almost no job security. We feel the recession. There are bonuses. There are opportunities. We offer a service. We interview for work. It’s just not that different in a lot of ways. A lot of what people perceive to be glamorous is actually fairly absurd when viewed up close. I think the vast majority of actors make a reasonable income and are happy to put gas in the car and go out to dinner a few times a week. I was actually just thinking about this at the premiere the other night–how the experience of the premiere could not feel more foreign to the experience of making the movie. I mean, one minute you’re with a small group of creative people talking about how best to tell a story, to connect to an audience, to appeal to a human element. And a few months later, you find yourself on a red carpet next to the Real Housewives of the O.C. trying to elbow your way into a party. It’s crazy! Truth is, that part of it only happens once in a while. The cool part is the work–everyone will tell you that, promise.

HoChie: I think that it’s quite important to pursue the things you enjoy, and if possible, to make it your career choice. What advice do you have for folks out there who are figuring out their path in life?

Kelvin: Come on, Ho Chie. I can’t answer that… I guess… um… Should anyone out there want to pursue acting, I do think it’s important to enjoy yourself. People tend to get caught up in what’s gonna happen next year or in ten years. If you’re not having a good time, I don’t know how much it’s worth at the end of the day. I guess that goes for everything. I’m gonna skip this one.

HoChie: So Kelvin, what’s next for you? Any new projects or routes you’d like to take?

Kelvin: Well, I was in New York last month shooting CSI: New York. That airs this Wednesday. I’m most excited about my writing right now. I’m creating a pilot with some friends (Martyn Starr, Jeremy Konner, and Steven Davis). Other than that, the film industry is on what they call a “de facto strike,” so I may work more on Dirty Sexy Money.

HoChie: Most important question ever – what’s your favorite Taiwanese food?

Kelvin: I guess I have to go with Bah-Tzang. Hard to screw that up. It’s like a Taiwanese hot pocket.

HoChie: Yum. Good answer. I should probably plug the new Bah-Tzang t-shirt design here! Haha! Well, Kelvin, thanks for taking time out of your schedule to share with all of us at We’re looking forward to seeing you do some great things in the years to come!

To find out more about Kelvin Yu, check out his (and his brother, author Charles Yu’s) website: – Be sure to click on the “reel” link to see clips of shows and movies he has been in! Also, visit his filmography and profile in IMDb:

On November 26th, catch him in the role of adviser Michael Wong in the upcoming movie Milk, the story of California’s first openly gay elected official, Harvey Milk, a San Francisco supervisor who was assassinated along with Mayor George Moscone by San Francisco Supervisor Dan White.

Directed by Gus Van Sant, the lead cast includes Sean Penn, Emile Hirsch, Josh Brolin, Diego Luna, and James Franco. The early reviews are buzzing with possible Oscar nominations…

The Best of the “Best of 2020” Lists

Feature photo from the Office of the President

aka “Taiwan #1”

All year long, we enjoy showcasing the best and most promising of Taiwanese America (and Taiwan). It has been our proud mission to highlight the amazing stories and people of our community. During this most challenging year in the midst of a global pandemic, inspirational stories have kept our spirits up. Now, with the year’s end in sight, the annual superlatives lists have started popping up, and we’ve taken note. During the past couple of months, what started out as a simple list to remind ourselves what to share with you soon became a longer list of Top 10’s, Top 20’s, and Best of 2020 articles. It’s been a lovely thing seeing that so many mainstream sites and publications have been recognizing notables from our Taiwanese American community, too. So instead of creating our own list, we share with you some of the lists that have caught our attention. Take a look, click through, and share this list of lists with your friends and family!

We get a warm fuzzy feeling when our Taiwanese American author friends finally get the recognition they deserve. Still trying to figure out what to read when you hunker down during the winter season or what gift you’d like to send someone dear to your heart? Check out these works that have made some prominent lists:

Interior Chinatown by Charles Yu

Dragon Hoops by Gene Luen Yang

Bestiary by K-Ming Chang

Loveboat, Taipei –Audiobook by Abigail Hing Wen

A quick shout-out to a Taiwanese Canadian counterpart recognized for her fine book:

Two Trees Make a Forest by Jessica J. Lee

Are you less of a reader and more of a screen person? Well, we understand. Check out some of these memorable films by Taiwanese American and Taiwanese directors, which made some notable cuts.

TigerTail by Alan Yang

I Will Make You Mine by Lynn Chen

A Sun by Chung Mong-hong

IWeirDo by Liao Ming-yi

Eat Drink Man Woman by Ang Lee (1994)

And even more Taiwanese films from the 80’s and 90’s by the likes of Hou Hsiao-Hsien, Tsai Ming-liang, and Edward Yang:

It says something when Taiwanese Americans venture into all corners of the entertainment media world. After all, increasing our representation starts with exploring our roots, original storytelling, and challenging stereotypes–from script to stage to spotlight. We’re super proud of the reach these creatives have extended.

Two Horny Goats podcast by Roxy Shih and Priscilla Liang (aka Priska)

Chopin–a comedic screenplay–by Valiant Picture’s Vincent Lin

Jolin Tsai, Jay Chou, rock band Mayday, and actor Eddie Peng make this inaugural list of Asia’s digital media darlings:

Who doesn’t love some good food? Basically, Taiwanese food anywhere and everywhere makes our Taiwan #1 lists anytime. Although it may be a novelty to folks unfamiliar to our culture and influences, we’re pleased when we get some mention at all… even if it’s for a ramen list or some fusion recipe. If someone learns about Taiwan, we’ll still drink to that! Cheers!

Eric Sze and Andy Chuang–co-founders of 886 Restaurant in NYC

Mom’s Dry Dan Dan Noodle & A-Sha Braised Beef Noodle Soup–sometimes you gotta go ramen when there’s nothing else…

Taiwanese Beef Noodle-inspired French Onion Soup


2020 was also the Year of the Rat. And we sat at home a lot listening to music.

Taiwanese Illustrator An Chen’s animated New Year GIF

Past and present, let’s not forget the influential Taiwanese who have helped shape Taiwan’s trajectory on the international stage. Moreover, during a year where democracy and freedom have come under scrutiny in light of a global pandemic, Taiwan definitely deserves accolades for the shining beacon and fine example it represents. We begin by paying respects to the father of Taiwan’s democracy who passed away in 2020–former president Lee Teng-hui.

President Lee Teng-hui (January 15, 1923 – July 30, 2020)

Huang Wei-xiang, CEO of Skills for U (nominated by the amazing digital minister of Taiwan, Audrey Tang)

Simon Lin, CEO of Wistron

President Tsai Ing-wen

So, fine. For some reason, Taiwan came in at #3 on a list of COVID-resilient countries. But for those of us who have been following Taiwan’s successes and strategies under the leadership of President Tsai, former Vice-president Dr. Chen Chien-jen, and Taiwan’s CDC, we know that Taiwan is the only place in the world right now that is normal. And, their COVID stats are beyond admirable. But, keep at it. Be excellent, and more will continue to notice.

Well, that’s it for now–the best of “the bests.” Did we miss any lists that you’ve come across? Let us know! Hopefully, we’ll see more friends and folks whom we’ve come to admire over the years. We know in time even more Taiwanese and Taiwanese Americans will continue being applauded on mainstream lists in acknowledgement of their work and impact.

See you on the other side in 2021!

Taiwanese American Holiday Gift Guide: Shop small, shop early!


Save 10% at The Formosa Coffee with code “TAORG”

Save 10% on Formosa Chocolates with code “TAORG” + ‘Formosa’ cooler as free gift with purchase on all orders with a dozen or more bonbons

Shop Miss Modi’s “Taiwan Street Food Collection” (10% of net proceeds benefit at no additional cost to you)

Support independent bookstores and by purchasing print books from Bookshop.


01. Us Two Tea | Authentic, loose-leaf Taiwanese tea sourced from second generation farms

“Us Two Tea represents the second generation of Asian Americans – an Asian founded and owned tea brand that promotes our culture, values, and lifestyle. We are a brand that represents quality, authenticity and unity. We want to inspire our next generation to be more confident about our culture and stay true and authentic to who they are – to be proud of being an Asian American.”

Pictured Editor’s Pick: Taiwanese Baozhong Tea | $11.25 for 12 tea bags

Shop all from Us Two Tea
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02. Té Company Tea | Fine Taiwanese tea, sourced from small farmers & showcased in a casual, friendly atmosphere 

“What we find so interesting about Taiwanese teas is how they are shaped by its people. A beautiful batch of tea comes from a wonderful marriage between the bounty of the land and the skillset of the tea maker. For example, historical events like the Japanese occupation had a major impact on Taiwanese culture and technological advancement, including tea making. Our Iconic Taiwanese Teas set consists of six teas that each represent a part of Taiwanese heritage, while some of our other teas showcase the innovation of a younger generation of tea makers.”

Pictured Editor’s Pick: Formosa Collection | $75.00 for 6 x 10g teas, illustrated cards

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03. Wild Rising | ‘Soulistic’ apothecary, fine blends inspired by classic Chinese & Western herbalism 

“We are California grown, second gen Taiwanese-American kids that were raised on Chinese herbs and alternative healing. Through this humble little online shop, we hope to carry out a heart-centered mission of love, heritage and high vibrations to serve your soul.”

Pictured Editor’s Pick: ‘Formosa’ Herbal Elixir Tea | $22 for 3oz.

Shop all from Wild Rising
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04. The Formosa Coffee | Taiwan-grown, New York-roasted coffee

“The coffee beans we use come directly from our farms on the mountains of central Taiwan at an elevation of 3,500-4,000ft. Grown in volcanic soil, our beans produce an exquisitely smooth taste without the bitterness and strong acidity. It is a mild coffee perfectly balanced in flavor and aroma. We roast every order on the day of shipping in New York, which means you always get the freshest coffee at peak flavor.”

Use code TAORG for 10% off

Pictured Editor’s Pick: Premium Taiwan Coffee | $19.99 for 8oz.

Shop all from The Formosa Coffee
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The Formosa Coffee, interviewed by


05. Brave Gals | An empowering community where moms can feel safe and supported to chase their dreams

“We’re a company that seeks to innovate motherhood. We empower moms to know that their dreams, time, passions are all valid. We also want to bring the community together to raise awareness and give back to something very dear to our hearts, which are foster care and adoption. 10% of our proceeds will be donated to foster care and adoption. These causes help kids and young adults receive the support they need as they are in the search of their families.”

Pictured Editor’s Pick: ‘Rosa’ Earrings | $25.00

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06. Project Formosa | High schooler-founded, proceeds donated to Vox Nativa

“Over the summer of 2019, we volunteered for Connexpedition, an organization that brings high school students to indigenous areas of Taiwan to teach underserved children English. ​Specifically, we were a part of the Vox Nativa branch of the program. Vox Nativa is a children’s choir and school based in the mountains of the Nantou Province of Taiwan. Most of their students are aboriginal kids ranging from elementary to middle school from villages around the area with the voices of angels. Founded in 2008, they have two simple goals: to improve the lives of those within the poverty stricken aboriginal communities and to promote aboriginal culture and pride through the voices of these gifted children. Throughout this experience, we’ve built connections and bonds that will last a lifetime and have inspired us to give back to these children and the program. With Formosa, our mission is to continuously sell products where we can donate profits to these children who have touched our hearts forever. All of our scrunchies are handmade with love and care, and we hope you enjoy them as much as we enjoyed the process of making them!”

Pictured Editor’s Pick: Handmade scrunchies | $3

Shop all from Project Formosa
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Project Formosa, interviewed by


07. Formosa Fine Chocolates | Belgian technique, American artistry, Taiwanese hospitality 

“We at Formosa Chocolates proudly produce luxury chocolates in the San Francisco Bay Area with Belgian technique, American artistry and tastes, and Taiwanese hospitality and gift-giving tradition. Whenever possible, we use local sustainably-sourced ingredients. We aim to create a stylish and sophisticated chocolate experience that gifters will be proud to present to recipients.”

Use code TAORG for 10% off

Pictured Editor’s Picks: Formosa Fine Chocolate Gift Set | $37+ / Coffee Caramel Bonbons | $7.50+

Shop all from Formosa Chocolates
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08. ILHA Candles | Fragrant, hand-poured soy candles, made with love in Queens, NY

“Shop our custom scent we created in collaboration with, an organization that connects and represents the diverse experiences of the next generation of the Taiwanese American community.”

Pictured Editor’s Picks: ILHA Candles Jasmine Green Tea | $25 / ILHA Candles Amber & Moss | $25

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09. Cathy Erway’s “The Food of Taiwan: Recipes from the Beautiful Island” 

“Acclaimed author Cathy Erway offers an insider’s look at Taiwanese cooking–from home-style dishes to authentic street food. While certain dishes from Taiwan are immensely popular, like steamed buns and bubble tea, the cuisine still remains relatively unknown in America. In The Food of Taiwan, Taiwanese-American Cathy Erway, the acclaimed blogger and author of The Art of Eating In, gives readers an insider’s look at Taiwanese cooking with almost 100 recipes for both home-style dishes and street food. Recipes range from the familiar, such as Pork Belly Buns, Three Cup Chicken, and Beef Noodle Soup, to the exotic, like the Stuffed Bitter Melon, Oyster Noodle Soup, and Dried Radish Omelet. Tantalizing food photographs intersperse with beautiful shots of Taiwan’s coasts, mountains, and farms and gritty photos of bustling city scenes, making this book just as enticing to flip through as it is to cook from.”

Order from Bookshop
Follow Cathy Erway on Instagram

10. Yun Hai Shop 雲海 | Premium ingredients for Taiwanese pantries

“Yun Hai 雲海 offers a selection of premium ingredients for Chinese and Taiwanese cooking. We source directly from artisans, farms, and soy sauce breweries in Taiwan. Terrain, technique, history, and humanity come together in the traditional foods we distribute.”

Pictured Editor’s Picks: Su Chili Crisp 甦香麻辣油 | $14 /  Amber River Soy Sauce 濁水琥珀黑豆醬油 | $22

Shop all from Yun Hai
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11. Mama Liang’s | Bringing Taiwanese comfort food to your home

“Our family passed down traditional and popular Taiwanese recipes over two decades ago and we shared with patrons at our Cupertino restaurant, Liang’s Village. Our classical flavors draw inspiration from a heritage of family recipes and creative innovation. Our brand is part of the Taiwanese food revolution and we want to set the standard for those who are not afraid of bold cultural dishes of creative innovation. We are the leaders in bringing modern Taiwanese food out into the open for those to enjoy conveniently at home and can’t wait to keep everyone’s bellies full.”

Pictured Editor’s Pick: Extra Spicy Chili Oil 辣油 | $8.50

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12. Yoseka Stationery | Curated Asian stationery in Brooklyn, NY

“Yoseka Stationery is the US branch of Yoseka, which was founded in 1981 in Taoyuan, Taiwan, where I (Neil) grew up. My wife (Daisy) and I started Yoseka Stationery in 2017 as a way of introducing Asian stationery to the US. ”

Pictured Editor’s Pick: Rice Cooker Pin | $8.50 / Mango Ice Pin | $8.50

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13. 886 | New York influenced Taiwanese food with locally sourced ingredients

“886 is Taiwan’s international calling code. A concept by Eric Sze and Andy Chuang aiming to fuse their Taiwanese upbringing with American modernization.”

Pictured Editor’s Pick: Sze Daddy Chili Sauce | $8

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14. Miss Modi | Handcrafted enamel earrings

“I realized there are a lot of talented women jewelry designers from my Asian heritage who aren’t able to cross the cultural gap to America. So I started Miss Modi to serve as that bridge. As food is typically the first bridge between cultures and given the worldwide popularity of Boba and Xiao Long Bao, our Taiwanese Street Food collection literally flew off the shelves when we debuted it in Los Angeles last year. For me as a Taiwanese American, it truly made me so proud to see that these little things that bring back sweet, warm memories of my life in Taiwan were now so widely loved and accepted by non-Taiwanese here in America.”

Pictured Editor’s Picks: Taiwanese Chicken Cutlet ( Ji Pai) Enamel Stud Earrings | $25 / Braised Pork On Rice Enamel Stud Earrings | $25 / Rainbow Taiwan Enamel Stud Earrings | $32

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15. Mogutable | Curated, well-made objects for everyday life

“We are Yingchi and Yuchen, the people behind Mogutable. Originally from Taiwan, we are a Brooklyn-based sister duo. Our shop features a selection of unique, well-designed, aesthetically-pleasing objects, sourced from our favorite artisans, locally and internationally.”

Pictured Editor’s Pick: Kinto Travel Tumbler in Khaki | $35

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16. tê-bí 茶米 | Handmade polymer clay earrings

“Thoughtful and lightweight jewelry from my hands and heart to your ears.”

Pictured Editor’s Pick: Chamomile Dangles in Emerald | $28.50

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17. Glowie Co | Authentic Asian beauty products from Taiwan, Japan, and Korea

“Having come from seven years at Sephora HQ, Annie brought extensive experience working on launches for brands such as Dyson and the Ordinary. To bring T-beauty to the masses, she and fiancé Phil Tamaki, formerly in marketing at Taiwanese company ASUS, joined forces with two other co-founders whose existing importing and logistics infrastructure put Glowie Co instantly ahead of much of the competition. Glowie Co customers often rave on social media about the store’s prompt and professional shipping. In a market plagued by slow fulfillment times and frequent issues with vendor reliability, that’s a breath of fresh air.”

Pictured Editor’s Pick: Glowie Co Taiwanese Sheet Mask Starter Set | $14.99

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Glowie Co’s Annie Wang, interviewed by Jude Chao for

18. Pink Agave Designs | Handmade Non-Medical Grade Face Masks

Pictured Editor’s Pick: Rewashable Adjustable Ditsy Floral Print Face Mask | $11.99

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19. Dear Botanicals | Handmade Artisan Soap

“This all began because I really needed to create something again. After working as a television documentary producer for over 10 years, I had taken an extended leave to parent full-time. While that experience has had its own magic, I can’t seem to quit producing one way or another. Now I produce the loveliest soap, and get to immerse myself in a world where art, science, and a little bit of alchemy collide. I grew up on the west coast of Canada, and now I live on the north shore of Massachusetts, so I harbor a deep love of mountains, trees, and nature. It gives me great pleasure to take inspiration from that, as well as from my Taiwanese heritage.”

Pictured Editor’s Pick: French Clay Soap | $12

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20. The Wax Apple | A collection of handcrafted goods and everyday objects from Taiwan

“Grandmother had a driver who had taken her around for thirty years, and he was my ride too if I wanted to go out to the countryside. She would always want to come, though. Grandmother was never a homebody. I don’t think she’d spent a whole day inside her entire life. We’d go out to look around and she’d be on her phone calling people, like cousins and father’s accountant’s wife. How could they say no about joining us for lunch? She had been a teacher in the small town where she met my grandfather, and together they had traveled everywhere. One trip, she brought back gold rings with elephant hair embedded in them. She gave me one, and I found another rummaging through her things, and wear them both every day. If you went over to her house, grandmother would ask, “Did you eat yet?” and suddenly there would be pineapple cake or maybe a sliced wax apple, stuck with tiny forks. The Wax Apple is all the things that are like a day with my Grandmother in Taiwan.”

Pictured Editor’s Pick: Wax Apple sculpture container in Moss | $72

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21. Té Company Tea | Fine Taiwanese tea, sourced from small farmers & showcased in a casual, friendly atmosphere 

Pictured Editor’s Pick: Pineapple Linzer Cookies | $20 for 6 cookies

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22. Mogutable | Curated, well-made objects for everyday life

Pictured Editor’s Pick: Dachun’s Red Quinoa Soap | $12

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23. Uniqlay Ceramics | Reimagining handmade tableware to celebrate diversity, culture, and deeply-rooted family traditions

“Though the food we eat is a big part of our identity, culture and heritage, tableware options available are falling behind. Even though so many brands have made loud statements on diversity, there isn’t a whole lot of action. Celebrating cultures and representing minority female artists underpins everything we do at Uniqlay Ceramics. I am a firm believer that your culture and how you eat should be a source of comfort and pride. ”

Pictured Editor’s Pick: Classic Plate – Emerald Quail | $48+

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24. Happy Masks | Face masks with sewn-in and washable nanofiber membrane

“Happy Masks has always been a family affair. Twenty years ago in Taiwan, my father partnered with a scientist (and family friend!) to develop a powerful nanofiber membrane filter. The SARs epidemic in 2003 then inspired them to create a face mask with this technology to protect against the airborne virus. We created Happy Masks because we wanted to make these masks available for all families. Whether it’s going to the grocery store or visiting a grandparent, our mission is to make it possible for you to do the things you love with the people you love.”

Pictured Editor’s Pick: Tiger Pro mask (multiple sizes available) | $24

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25. Bitty Bao | Bilingual board books, by Taiwanese American mamas

“In our own book finding experience, we found it difficult to come by many options for cute Chinese bilingual books, with pinyin, zhuyin, and traditional characters that showcase our culture while supporting language learning at all levels.”

Pictured Editor’s Pick: Bitty Bao Gift Pack | $64.99

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26. Hello Prosper | Building bridges for stories lost in the Asian diaspora

“Educated in the Quaker school system in small town outside of Philadelphia, founder & creative director, Kelly Lan, believed there is a light in everyone – and Asian women like herself – should be celebrated and seen in popular culture, history books and art. As a proud daughter of Taiwanese immigrants, she believed in order to prosper, one must feel grounded. Learning about the lost history of our ancestors through the arts can minimize the built up of confusion for our youth and the next generation to come. Kelly began mobilizing communities around a common purpose and shared vision of co-ownership. Hello Prosper was built out of necessity — to pursue the unanswered questions that society has overlooked and encouraging families to break the culture of silence. We make products and educational materials that serve the needs of our community and keep the value we create.”

Pictured Editor’s Pick: Digital Coloring & Conversation Sheets | $5

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27. [Preorder] Eyes that Kiss in the Corners by Joanna Ho, ill. Dung Ho

“A young Asian girl notices that her eyes look different from her peers’. They have big, round eyes and long lashes. She realizes that her eyes are like her mother’s, her grandmother’s, and her little sister’s. They have eyes that kiss in the corners and glow like warm tea, crinkle into crescent moons, and are filled with stories of the past and hope for the future. Drawing from the strength of these powerful women in her life, she recognizes her own beauty and discovers a path to self love and empowerment. This powerful, poetic picture book will resonate with readers of all ages and is a celebration of diversity.”

Pre-order from Bookshop
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28. [Preorder] I Dream of Popo by Livia Blackburne, ill. Julia Kuo

“From New York Times bestselling author Livia Blackburne and illustrator Julia Kuo, here is I Dream of Popo. This delicate, emotionally rich picture book celebrates a special connection that crosses time zones and oceans as Popo and her granddaughter hold each other in their hearts forever.

I dream with Popo as she rocks me in her arms.
I wave at Popo before I board my flight.
I talk to Popo from across the sea.
I tell Popo about my adventures.

When a young girl and her family emigrate from Taiwan to America, she leaves behind her beloved popo, her grandmother. She misses her popo every day, but even if their visits are fleeting, their love is ever true and strong.”

Pre-order from Bookshop
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29. Glowie Co. Annie’s Way Bubble Tea Sheet Mask Sampler | $19 / Glowie Co. 

30. The Boba Kit (Matcha + Amber Rock Sugar) | $50 / The Boba Guys

31. Happy and Angry Reversible Boba Plushie | $25 / Boba Origin

32.  A Jar of Pickles Boba Keychain | $16 / A Jar of Pickles

33. Miss Modi Boba Enamel Jewelry | $25 / Miss Modi

34. Boba-Themed Custom Return Address Stamp | $29.70 / Hope Prevails 


35. Sticky Rice Sisters | Unique and cute Taiwanese stationery

“We are two Taiwanese sisters sharing our love of cute stickers and stationery and we are bringing them straight to your mailbox!”

Pictured Editor’s Pick: Plain Deco – Geometric Shapes | $4

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36. Yoseka Stationery | Curated Asian stationery in Brooklyn, NY

“Yoseka Stationery is the US branch of Yoseka, which was founded in 1981 in Taoyuan, Taiwan, where I (Neil) grew up. My wife (Daisy) and I started Yoseka Stationery in 2017 as a way of introducing Asian stationery to the US. ”

Pictured Editor’s Pick: Hobonichi Tech Weeks 2021 – Doraemon | $30 / Ystudio Brassing Sketching Pencil | $100

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37. Fomato | Stationery by Taiwanese American Emmie Hsu

“I grew up in Kansas and spent several summers in Taiwan, where my sisters and I wandered around eating street food, petting stray dogs and scratching our 200+ mosquito bites, and then going into stationery shops and rubbing our grimy hands all over their beautiful cards, stationery and stickers. The interesting items we drooled over in those shops inspired me to start this line.”

Pictured Editor’s Pick: “Happy ‘Baothday'” Watercolor Card | $5.00 $2.50

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38. A Jar of Pickles | Stationery, stickers, stamps, & more

“Hi, I’m Kirstie! A Jar of Pickles is my small side business that I started as an Etsy shop in college.”

Pictured Editor’s Pick: Taipei Gift Set | $30

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39. Felicia Chiao | Industrial designer by day, illustrator by night

Pictured Editor’s Pick: Taiwan Art Print | $24.99

Visit Felicia Chiao’s Illustration Patreon
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(from left to right, top to bottom)

Rent a Boyfriend | Gloria Chao

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before meets The Farewell in this incisive romantic comedy about a college student who hires a fake boyfriend to appease her traditional Taiwanese parents, to disastrous results, from the acclaimed author of American Panda.
Chloe Wang is nervous to introduce her parents to her boyfriend, because the truth is, she hasn’t met him yet either. She hired him from Rent for Your ‘Rents, a company specializing in providing fake boyfriends trained to impress even the most traditional Asian parents.
Drew Chan’s passion is art, but after his parents cut him off for dropping out of college to pursue his dreams, he became a Rent for Your ‘Rents employee to keep a roof over his head. Luckily, learning protocols like “Type C parents prefer quiet, kind, zero-PDA gestures” comes naturally to him.
When Chloe rents Drew, the mission is simple: convince her parents fake Drew is worthy of their approval so they’ll stop pressuring her to accept a proposal from Hongbo, the wealthiest (and slimiest) young bachelor in their tight-knit Asian American community.
But when Chloe starts to fall for the real Drew–who, unlike his fake persona, is definitely not ‘rent-worthy–her carefully curated life begins to unravel. Can she figure out what she wants before she loses everything?

Also by Gloria Chao: Our Wayward Fate / American Panda

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Bestiary | K-Ming Chang

Three generations of Taiwanese American women are haunted by the myths of their homeland in this spellbinding, visceral debut about one family’s queer desires, violent impulses, and buried secrets.
One evening, Mother tells Daughter a story about a tiger spirit who lived in a woman’s body. She was called Hu Gu Po, and she hungered to eat children, especially their toes. Soon afterward, Daughter awakes with a tiger tail. And more mysterious events follow: Holes in the backyard spit up letters penned by her grandmother; a visiting aunt arrives with snakes in her belly; a brother tests the possibility of flight. All the while, Daughter is falling for Ben, a neighborhood girl with strange powers of her own. As the two young lovers translate the grandmother’s letters, Daughter begins to understand that each woman in her family embodies a myth–and that she will have to bring her family’s secrets to light in order to change their destiny.

Also by K-Ming Chang: Past Lives, Future Bodies

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K-Ming Chang, interviewed by

Two Trees Make a Forest | Jessica J. Lee

A chance discovery of letters written by her immigrant grandfather leads Jessica J. Lee to her ancestral homeland, Taiwan. There, she seeks his story while growing closer to the land he knew.

Lee hikes mountains home to Formosan flamecrests, birds found nowhere else on earth, and swims in a lake of drowned cedars. She bikes flatlands where spoonbills alight by fish farms, and learns about a tree whose fruit can float in the ocean for years, awaiting landfall. Throughout, Lee unearths surprising parallels between the natural and human stories that have shaped her family and their beloved island. Joyously attentive to the natural world, Lee also turns a critical gaze upon colonialist explorers who mapped the land and named plants, relying on and often effacing the labor and knowledge of local communities.

Two Trees Make a Forest is a genre-shattering book encompassing history, travel, nature, and memoir, an extraordinary narrative showing how geographical forces are interlaced with our family stories.

Buy ‘Two Trees Make a Forest’ on Bookshop
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Interior Chinatown | Charles Yu

2020 National Book Award winner – From the infinitely inventive author of How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe comes a deeply personal novel about race, pop culture, immigration, assimilation, and escaping the roles we are forced to play.

Willis Wu doesn’t perceive himself as a protagonist even in his own life: He’s merely Generic Asian man. Sometimes he gets to be Background Oriental Making a Weird Face or even Disgraced Son, but he is always relegated to a prop. Yet every day he leaves his tiny room in a Chinatown SRO and enters the Golden Palace restaurant, where Black and White, a procedural cop show, is in perpetual production. He’s a bit player here, too, but he dreams of being Kung Fu Guy–the most respected role that anyone who looks like him can attain. At least that’s what he has been told, time and time again. Except by one person, his mother. Who says to him: Be more.

Playful but heartfelt, a send-up of Hollywood tropes and Asian stereotypes, Interior Chinatown is Charles Yu’s most moving, daring, and masterly novel yet.

Also by Charles Yu: How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe / Sorry Please Thank You

Buy ‘Interior Chinatown’ on Bookshop

David Tung Can’t Have a Girlfriend Until He Gets Into an Ivy League College | Ed Lin

In David Tung Can’t Have a Girlfriend Until He Gets Into an Ivy League College, novelist Ed Lin conjures up “a fast-paced, acid-tongued, hilarious teen drama for our age,” says Marie Myung-Ok Lee, acclaimed author of Somebody’s Daughter and Finding My Voice. Both playful and wryly observant, Ed Lin’s YA-debut explores coming-of-age in the Asian diaspora while navigating relationships through race, class, and young love. David Tung, our nerd-hero, is a Chinese American high-school student who works in his family’s restaurant, competes for top grades at his regular high school located in an upscale, Asian-majority New Jersey suburb, and attends weekend Chinese school in NYC’s working-class Chinatown. While David faces parental pressures to get As and conform to cultural norms and expectations, he’s caught up in the complicated world of high school love triangles–and amid these external pressures is the fear he will die alone, whether he gets into Harvard or not!

Also by Ed Lin: Ghost Month / 99 Ways to Die / Snakes Can’t Run / This is a Bust / One Red Bastard

Buy ‘David Tung Can’t Have a Girlfriend Until He Gets Into An Ivy League College’ on Bookshop
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The Astonishing Color of After | Emily X.R. Pan

A stunning, heartbreaking debut novel about grief, love, and family, perfect for fans of Jandy Nelson and Celeste Ng.

Leigh Chen Sanders is absolutely certain about one thing: When her mother died by suicide, she turned into a bird.Leigh, who is half Asian and half white, travels to Taiwan to meet her maternal grandparents for the first time. There, she is determined to find her mother, the bird. In her search, she winds up chasing after ghosts, uncovering family secrets, and forging a new relationship with her grandparents. And as she grieves, she must try to reconcile the fact that on the same day she kissed her best friend and longtime secret crush, Axel, her mother was taking her own life.Alternating between real and magic, past and present, friendship and romance, hope and despair, The Astonishing Color of After is a stunning and heartbreaking novel about finding oneself through family history, art, grief, and love.

Also by Emily X.R. Pan: Foreshadow: Stories to Celebrate the Magic of Reading and Writing YA

Buy ‘The Astonishing Color of After’ on Bookshop
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Taiwan in 100 Books | John Grant Ross

Taiwan in 100 Books is the distillation of hundreds of titles and decades of reading into a riveting narrative of Taiwan from the early seventeenth century to the present. Long-time resident John Ross, the author of You Don’t Know China and Formosan Odyssey, delves into the most acclaimed, interesting, and influential books on Taiwan, along with some personal favorites. Most entries are non-fiction works originally published in English (translated Chinese-language books will be covered in a separate upcoming title). Relive Taiwan’s most dramatic historical event in Lord of Formosa and Lost Colony. Learn about the White Terror in A Pail of OystersGreen Island, and Formosa Betrayed. Discover dated “time capsule” accounts such as Flight to Formosa and Taipei After Dark, and others like John Slimming’s Green Plums and a Bamboo Horse that have stood the test of time. Turn the pages of obscure books such as The Jing Affair and Dragon Hotel, undeserved best-sellers like the The Soong Dynasty, and some of the best academic works. Experience unique facets of life in Taiwan in Shots from the Hip: Sex, Drugs and the Tao and Barbarian at the Gate: From the American Suburbs to the Taiwanese Army. Follow authors on their quests, whether conservationists going undercover to expose the illegal wildlife trade, adoptees returning to find their biological parents, or foodies in search of the perfect beef noodle soup. Taiwan in 100 Books is an accessible introduction to works on the country and and an enjoyable shortcut to understanding the country’s history and culture. It’s also a bibliophile’s elixir packed with the backstories of the authors and the books themselves; there are tales of outrageous literary fraud, lost manuscripts, banned books, and publishing skulduggery.

Buy ‘Taiwan in 100 Books’ on Bookshop
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Becoming Taiwanese: Ethnogenesis in a Colonial City, 1880s to 1950s | Evan N Dawley

What does it mean to be Taiwanese? This question sits at the heart of Taiwan’s modern history and its place in the world. In contrast to the prevailing scholarly focus on Taiwan after 1987, Becoming Taiwanese examines the important first era in the history of Taiwanese identity construction during the early twentieth century, in the place that served as the crucible for the formation of new identities: the northern port city of Jilong (Keelung).

Part colonial urban social history, part exploration of the relationship between modern ethnicity and nationalism, Becoming Taiwanese offers new insights into ethnic identity formation. Evan Dawley examines how people from China’s southeastern coast became rooted in Taiwan; how the transfer to Japanese colonial rule established new contexts and relationships that promoted the formation of distinct urban, ethnic, and national identities; and how the so-called retrocession to China replicated earlier patterns and reinforced those same identities. Based on original research in Taiwan and Japan, and focused on the settings and practices of social organizations, religion, and social welfare, as well as the local elites who served as community gatekeepers, Becoming Taiwanese fundamentally challenges our understanding of what it means to be Taiwanese.

Buy ‘Becoming Taiwanese’ on Bookshop

More Book Shop Lists:

The Taiwanese American Canon

Translated Taiwanese Literature

Taiwan & Taiwanese America Non-Fiction 

Taiwanese American Literature for Children


Taiwanese United Fund

The Taiwanese United Fund is a non-profit organization dedicated to sharing Taiwanese culture and heritage, by organizing events that spread or support Taiwanese arts and culture, and by providing grants to people and organizations who share this mission of spreading Taiwanese culture and heritage. Find out more about TUF at their website.

Gifting a donation on behalf of someone this holiday season is a great idea for your friends or family who love supporting Taiwanese arts and culture, or just like to support the Taiwanese American community.

TUF is providing small tokens of appreciation for your support and generosity:

  • Every donation over $10 will receive a Taiwanese winter-themed card featuring the artwork of Taiwanese-Canadian artist Jackie Chang.
  • Every donation over $50 will receive a copy of a soon-to-be-published biography of Taiwanese-American community organizer and philanthropist Wu Li Pei.

Donations are tax-deductible.

Link to donate is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization registered in the State of California. We are run by an all-volunteer staff, and we are supported by personal funds and passion.

Please consider supporting by making a monetary donation. All donations are tax-deductible, and letters acknowledging your donation will be sent by the end of the fiscal year.

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Read Taiwanese American, Shop Independent

Read #taiwaneseamerican, shop #independentbookstores. We’ve curated recommendations across the Taiwanese American canon (Shawna Yang Ryan’s “Green Island,” Charles Yu’s “Interior Chinatown,” Chia-Chia Lin’s “The Unpassing”, Michelle Kuo’s “Reading with Patrick,” and more), as well as favorites from translated Taiwanese literature (Wu-Ming Yi’s “The Stolen Bicycle, Chen-Ho Wang’s “Rose, Rose, I Love You,” etc.) and non-fiction (Cathy Erway’s “The Food of Taiwan,” Ming-Sho Ho’s coverage of Taiwan’s Sunflower Movement, and more). Take a peek @ Also linked in bio. ⁠ will receive 10% of proceeds for purchases made through our affiliate links. As a volunteer-run non-profit, all fundraising efforts support Taiwanese American creative projects and paying contributing writers.

50 Books for Your Taiwanese American Library

During the second full week of Asian Pacific American Heritage Month each May, we proudly recognize and celebrate Taiwanese American Heritage Week! In the past decade, more than a handful of authors, writers, creatives, and poets have emerged to write the many stories of our patchwork community into being. Below, we have compiled a list of nearly 50 titles from this talented pool. Many of the authors themselves are Taiwanese Americans or have ties to Taiwan. Some of these books have Taiwanese or Taiwanese American characters, and others may have included settings in Taiwan. In no way is this an exhaustive list, and we’re certain there are other talented storytellers whom we have inadvertently missed, and hope that there will be even more storytellers to come. We will occasionally update this post as we discover more, and as your own works join the ranks of the ones we’ve listed below. We are proud to share this nearly comprehensive list with you! Most of these books can be purchased in bookstores or online.

* * *
Set in History

Several of our favorite Taiwanese American authors have written our intricate heritage and history into monuments of fiction. In recent years, Shawna Yang Ryan’s Green Island and Julie Wu’s The Third Son have received glowing accolades for their artistry in turning complex histories into heartwarming narratives centering human relationships. For anyone looking to understand the Taiwanese experience and immigration story, we recommend you start your collection with these two books, both of which reflect on the legacies of Japanese and Chinese occupation. Another notable contribution is Jennifer J. Chow’s The 228 Legacy, a story about how the shadows of the February 28, 1947 incident (called 228) loom over three generations, forcing both personal and political secrets to light. We also include an honorable mention for the English-translated version of Wu Ming-Yi’s The Stolen Bicycle, which recently made headlines as it entered the final round of the Man Booker International Prize. He is widely considered the most influential writer of his generation in Taiwan. All of these works render accessible Taiwan’s history without simplifying or romanticizing it; through their dynamic characters, we are better able to understand how Taiwan’s memory and presence can be kept alive in the stories of her people.

Family Matters

The Taiwanese American experience comes in all forms, and these authors curate captivating story lines driven by tragedy, family tension, and the eternal struggle to understand a fluid, multifaceted identity. Debuting this year on the New York Times’ Bestseller list is Emily X.R. Pan’s beautiful debut novel, The Astonishing Color of After, which tackles the subjects of depression and suicide through a young woman’s journey to meet her maternal grandparents in Taiwan for the first time. Anelise Chen’s debut “experimental” novel, So Many Olympic Exertions, blends elements of sports writing, memoir, and self-help to explore what it means to live after the narrator’s friend dies by suicide. In the dark, multigenerational novel by Esmé Weijun Wang, The Border of Paradise, she transports readers into the world of an iconoclastic midcentury family from Brooklyn to Taiwan, then to California. For more romantic drama revolving around millionaires, check out Lianna Shen’s bildungsroman of a Taiwanese Canadian in A Chance of Clouds. These works complicate and challenge the idea of a homogeneous Taiwanese American narrative by incorporating startling truths of the human condition: those of mental illness, of poverty, of failed relationships, of mixed-race identity, and more.

Living the Life

Many Taiwanese American authors have written novels loosely inspired by their own experiences or the people around them. Here are a few noteworthy titles to check out: The critically-reviewed Taipei by Tao Lin follows a young Brooklyn-based author who lands in Taiwan. As his drug addiction spirals out of control, he confronts issues of self-esteem and loneliness. Closer to home, Stephanie Wu (also the editor-in-chief of Mochi Magazine) chronicles the hilarious to disastrous experiences of friends and frenemies in The Roommates: True Tales of Friendship, Rivalry, Romance, and Disturbingly Close Quarters. San Francisco/Bay area audiences will relate to Anna Yen’s novel, Sophia of Silicon Valley, where the protagonist has to fight dragons in both the male-dominated tech and finance industries, and at home, where she is the baby of overbearing parents and a perfect older sister. Another juicy new release is Stephanie Suga Chen’s Travails of a Trailing Spouse, which starts with a successful, accomplished female lawyer who sets aside her career to follow her husband to his new job in Asia. For the young at heart, start with Gloria Chao’s American Panda, which follows a young 17 year old student at MIT who struggles to balance family expectations and personal passions. We include Taiwanese author Chu T’ien-wen’s Notes of a Desolate Man here as an added extra. Her contemporary tale of a Taiwanese gay man who reflects on his life, loves, and intellectual influences has been described as “among the most important recent novels in Taiwan.”

Unique Taiwanese Experience

In these books, an unexpected connection to Taiwan adds dimension to our collective journey: Julia Lin’s Shadows of the Crimson Son details the life of a man born in Taiwan under Japanese colonization and raised in Manchuria who fights for Taiwanese democracy after immigrating to North America. Milo L. Thornberry’s Fireproof Moth: A Missionary in Taiwan’s White Terror is an autobiographical account of his time in Taiwan during the 1960s, a period defined by martial law and the civil uneasiness it imposed.  A translated classic, Orphan of Asia by Wu Zhuoliu, is widely regarded as “a groundbreaking expression of the postwar Taiwanese national consciousness.” T.C. Locke’s memoir Barbarian at the Gate: From the American Suburbs to the Taiwanese Army is a different perspective on assimilation; a white American is enlisted for Taiwan’s mandatory military service and eventually finds a home and family in Taiwan and its people.

Personal Reflections

The most authentic experiences of our Taiwanese American community come from first-hand memoirs and biographies. In recent years, celebrity chef Eddie Huang’s personal memoir, Fresh off the Boat, has become familiar to many because of its adaptation into the eponymous ABC prime time TV show. But his memoir, while centered around food and family, also uses humor to examine Asian American masculinity, the model minority myth and his many ways of subverting it, and what it means to find a sense of belonging in America’s black-and-white paradigm. We also recommend another profound and timely memoir that broaches the question of how Asian Americans can approach the mainstream discourse on race relations. Teacher-turned-lawyer-turned-teacher-again Michelle Kuo’s critically-acclaimed Reading with Patrick: A Teacher, a Student, and a Life-Changing Friendship, deservedly made it into Oprah’s recommended summer reading list. In it, Kuo navigates the too-familiar crossroads between filial duty and a life led by the greater good. In a similar vein, Dr. Pauline Chen–an accomplished transplant surgeon–steps away from her chosen profession to rediscover the meaning of humanity in Final Exam: A Surgeon’s Reflections on Mortality.

Adoptee Journeys

With over 2300+ adoptions from Taiwan to the U.S. since 1999, this topic and population deserves more care and attention within our community. Read both Mei-Ling Hopgood’s Lucky Girl and Marijane Huang’s blog-turned-memoir Beyond Two Worlds. They are heart-wrenching yet touching stories on the search for identity and family in Taiwan.

Collections, Reflections, and Shorts

The following wonderful collections and themed essays shed light on the Taiwanese diasporic journey. In Dmae Roberts’ The Letting Go Trilogies, this accomplished two-time Peabody Award-winning writer and radio producer deals with love and loss through the lens of her biracial experience. In Brenda Lin’s Wealth Ribbon: Taiwan Bound, America Bound, she presents another angle in interconnected essays that explore her transnational identity. For our North American counterparts, Julia Lin’s Miah is the first Taiwanese Canadian story collection ever published and gives a rare look into their unique immigrant stories. If you’re seeking a bit of humor, revisit Teresa Wu and Serena Wu’s hit blog-turned-book, My Mom is a Fob: Earnest Advice in Broken English from Your Asian-American Mom. They reclaimed this formerly derogatory term, applying it instead to the heartfelt and hilarious ways that Asian mothers adapt to American culture, from the perspective of those who love them most–their children. For those with the travel bug, you will be entertained by Lonely Planet Taiwan author Joshua Samuel Brown’s Vignettes of Taiwan, an anthology of short stories and travel essays, which grew out of his years and love for the island. Finally, we take pride in a recently published creative collection spearheaded by’s Andrea Chu and her co-editors Kevin Ko-wen Chen and Albertine Wang: Chrysanthemum: Voices of the Taiwanese Diaspora, available only for a limited time through In it, you will find excellent works by 20 creators exploring the concept of “liminality” or in-betweenness. We also send a shout-out to award-winning writer Timothy Tau, whose short stories, some set in Taiwan, have been published in various magazines and online publications.

Poetic Justice

The creative rhythm of words and imagery allows for a more evocative meditation on identity, history, and heritage. Your contemporary Taiwanese poetry collection should start with these: Leona Chen’s Book of Cord, Victoria Chang’s Barbie Chang, and Irene Hsiao’s photo-poetic Letter from Taipei. We also highly recommend the classic, No Trace of the Gardener, by Yang Mu who was born in Taiwan in 1940 and immigrated to the US in 1964.

The Dark Side

Are you a fan of mystery and crime stories, or those that challenge the darker side of humanity? Be sure to check out all of Ed Lin’s books, but especially these two, which are set in Taiwan: Ghost Month and Incensed. Francie Lin’s The Foreigner is a riveting story full of Taiwanese secrets, shady business, and the criminal underworld exploring what it means to be a foreigner even in one’s own family. Can half-Taiwanese detective Lana Lee solve a murder by shrimp dumpling? Find out in Vivien Chen’s Death by Dumpling. In Winnie M. Li’s Dark Chapter, a Taiwanese American tourist in London falls victim to a horrifying act of violence. We laud Winnie for bravely writing this raw and shocking account of violence, based on her own experiences, and the courage it takes to overcome such trauma with unflinching honesty.

Futuristic Imaginations

Our Taiwanese American sci-fi writers are all rising stars, and we wouldn’t be surprised if their books were one day adapted into films! Lawyer-turned-author Charles Yu, previously named a “5 under 35 Honoree” by The National Book Foundation, has published three books: Third Class Superhero, Sorry Please Thank You, and How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe. Check out the latter, a novel where the main character–named after himself–searches for absolution to a father-son relationship. Another talent, Wesley Chu, is now writing his third sci-fi trilogy series, but look to Death of Tao to see how he weaves Taiwan in as a setting. Hollywood has noticed… his novel Time Salvager was optioned to Paramount, with Michael Bay attached to direct. For fans of dystopian stories reminiscent of Handmaid’s Tale, you’ll want to read one of The Washington Post’s 5 Best Sci-fi and Fantasy Novels of 2017, Maggie Shen King’s An Excess Male, which envisions a dark future for China in the aftermath of its One Child policy. From critically acclaimed author Cindy Pon comes Want, an edge-of-your-seat sci-fi thriller, set in a near-future Taipei, about a group of teens who risk it all to save their city. While so many of the aforementioned works pay tribute to Taiwan and Taiwanese America’s histories, these science fiction writers move the conversation forward to more thoughtful contemplation on how the future might take shape.

A Youthful Take

These are for the kids, the teens, and young-at-heart: Grace Lin’s book series is loosely based on her own childhood experiences growing up as a Taiwanese American. Pacy Lin is the main character in Year of the Dog, Year of the Rat, and Dumpling Days. You will recognize your own childhood in her anecdotes about red envelopes and cutting her hair for Lunar New Year. Love her books? She has published over 40 other titles. One of our favorite Teen & Young Adult authors is Justina Chen, who gives young women a powerful voice through her stories and real-life book launch partnerships. Her first novel, which features a half Taiwanese protagonist, Nothing But the Truth (and a few white lies), won the 2007 Asian/Pacific American Awards for Literature. Also check out Return to Me, which is loosely based on events that happened to her own family. For Fifth Grader competitive drama, check out Peg Cheng’s The Contenders. Another accomplished pop-culture author who needs no introduction is Taiwanese-Chinese American Gene Luen Yang. His iconic, best-selling graphic novel involving a new immigrant from Taiwan, American Born Chinese, is an essential introduction for young Asian Americans grappling with dual identities. Kids will also be surprised to learn that he’s a writer behind Avatar: The Last Airbender graphic novels. The youngest of our talented group of authors is Rosalie Chiang who, at just 10 years old, worked with her father Robin to publish A is for Albatross: Birds A-Z. We heard that she’s writing another nature book. The talent starts young.

Little Bites of Culture

James Beard award-nominated writer & blogger Cathy Erway’s The Food of Taiwan is more than a recipe cookbook as it uncovers and details the unique histories and culinary influences of Taiwan. The late Cora Cheney’s Tales from a Taiwan Kitchen is a collection of traditional Taiwanese tales that reflect the varied cultural heritage of the island. Sit down, enjoy a Taiwanese snack, and learn from them both.


Thank you for supporting these authors, many of whom donated their books to the Taiwanese American Cultural Festival exhibit where’s Ho Chie manages the Cultural Exhibit Booth. All titles are available on Purchase their books to show your support. THE TAIWANESE AMERICAN CULTURAL FESTIVAL IS SPONSORED BY TAFNC & TAP-SF.

Original newsletter by Ho Chie Tsai. Article text by Ho Chie Tsai & Leona Chen.

TAP 8th Annual Banquet & Casino Night in LA

Date: Saturday, August 18, 2012
Time: 6:30pm – 12:00am
Location: The Mark for Events
Address: 9320 W. Pico Blvd., Los Angeles, CA
Facebook event page:

The Taiwanese American Professionals (TAP) cordially invites you to attend the 8th Annual Banquet & Casino Night! Featured events during the evening are TA honorees, Live TA performances, 15 casino tables, DJ, Dancing, silent auction, and more! Join hundreds of other young professionals and community members, for a night of celebration and fun with new and old friends.

This event brings the community out to network, celebrate the past year, honor people who have made a difference, highlight upcoming talent, fundraise for youth and professional programs, and have fun! Come out to play Blackjack, Craps, Roulette, Poker, Pai Gow, and more! Win prizes such as hotel packages, certificates to top L.A. restaurants, Disneyland/Universal tickets, massage packages, home packages, and MUCH more!

Attire: Semi-formal. Masks are highly encouraged!

6:30 pm – Check-In and Cocktail hour
7:30 pm – Dinner, Program, Awards Ceremony & Live Entertainment
9:00pm – Casino Night, DJ, Dancing, Raffle Prizes, Silent Auction

Purchase tickets here:

Charles Yu – Pioneer in Cultural Arts
Jay Chen – Pioneer in Civic Service

Nate Tao – Kollaboration Finalist
…and more to be announced!

For more information, please visit:

About TAP:
TAP is a young professional’s network and is an affiliate of TACL. TAP is a National organization with chapters across the country, including major cities such as Los Angeles, San Francisco, and New York. Its mission is to improve the quality of life of Taiwanese Americans in the US, with programs that serve to benefit all ages, but especially the youth. TAP is now the largest network of young Taiwanese American professionals in the US. This network has grown to over 8,000 strong (nationally) and continues to expand as we develop community-oriented leaders through professional development, community service, and social networking programs.