We are pleased to announce the 2022 cohort of honorable mentions, finalists, and grand prize winners of the Betty L. Yu & Jin C. Yu Creative Writing Prizes, established in partnership with TaiwaneseAmerican.org in honor of Yu’s parents, who are longstanding Taiwanese American community leaders. In its second year, the prize has expanded to include middle school participants and selections. Their work will be published on TaiwaneseAmerican.org throughout the year.
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).
The judges have selected the following:
Grand Prize Winner: Yakuza Baby, “Mooncakes”
From Alvina Ling: “I loved this multi-generational story about a girl named Eileen who reluctantly moves with her family to Taiwan from NY, and has some trouble fitting in. Her grandmother tells her about Eileen’s great-grandmother, Ailen, who she was named after, and the mystery behind Ailen’s sister Suilin who was left behind in Taiwan after the rest of the family moved to Singapore. Eileen magically discovers notes hidden in mooncakes, as well as Suilin’s journal that reveals the tragic mystery behind her disappearance, and Eileen ultimately accepts Taiwan as her home. I was really impressed by the strong voice, vivid emotions, and the ambitious plot and structure.”
Katelyn Mia Kuo
Grand Prize Winner: Matthew Hsu, “Parable of Gold Lucky Bakery”
From Shawna Yang Ryan: “Matthew Hsu beautifully evokes San Francisco’s Chinatown in this story of an immigrant woman trying to hold her own as her bakery is terrorized by young white ruffians, only to be betrayed by those closest to her. His main character, a divorced middle aged Taiwanese woman, is spunky, resilient, and likable. The story’s surprising ending offers a nuanced view of community relationships. Overall, the story is skillfully structured and displays Matthew’s dexterity with both the craft of fiction and the emotional power of storytelling.”
Brian Mu-En Wang
Kira YuHua Tang
Naomi Zhenmei Gage
Grand Prize Winner: Ian Yu-Hung Tseng, “Deconstructing Daan Forest Park”
From Charles Yu: “Inventive from the first line, Ian Yu-Hung Tseng’s “Deconstructing Daan Forest Park” is a rich, layered story that weaves together history, culture and wordplay into something witty and evocative—it circles around its ideas without ever squarely landing on them, giving the reader an interesting perspective on Taiwan’s national identity, past and present. An impressive piece from a very promising voice.”
Phoebe Ga-Yi Chan
REFLECTIONS FROM THE JUDGES:
“It was an honor to read another year’s entries. Every piece was strong in different ways: whether in craft, or theme, or emotion. I really enjoyed glimpsing what was on Taiwanese American writers’ minds around the world: work ranged from melancholy sci-fi to political commentary to narratives through the perspective of non-human creatures. There were also elegant and poignant reflections on family, identity, and Taiwan. I believe our selections reveal the wide range of voices and ideas in this cohort of entries. And, again, I am so excited to see these writers emerging and for their future work! The young Taiwanese American writing community is talented!” – Shawna Yang Ryan
“Reading this year’s entries was a wonderful experience. Seeing the range of perspectives, styles, ideas and work was inspiring for me as a writer, reader and a Taiwanese American. I found something to appreciate in all entries–whether it was sincerity, passion, cleverness, wit, boldness of form or language or subject matter, it is inspiring to know that we have so many creative voices and minds in our midst. I am grateful to all who participated for giving their time and sharing their work, and I look forward to seeing the work these young people will go on to produce in the future. I hope the experience will be useful or rewarding to the student writers as well, including getting to know the judges, the folks at TaiwaneseAmerican.org and especially each other–building community is still a primary goal of this project!” – Charles Yu
“It was an honor to be a judge for the inaugural middle school category. I enjoyed reading the entries, and especially loved the variety–from fantasy and dystopian stories, to poetry, to realistic contemporary and nonfiction essays, I was really impressed by the range and skill of the authors–these works made me laugh, made me cry, and made me think. And, I found it very difficult to choose the winner, finalists, and honorable mentions–in fact, I found it more challenging than my job as a children’s book editor! It was wonderful to see how talented these young writers are.” – Alvina Ling
From TaiwaneseAmerican.org founder Ho Chie Tsai:
In the aftermath of the Laguna Woods shooting, this past week has been a whirlwind—monitoring news, checking in on our community, fielding media inquiries, and reflecting on how we got here. As I discover more names of friends whose parents or relatives were directly impacted by this tragedy, I’m reminded of how deeply and intricately connected we are as a Taiwanese American community. Unfortunately, it just feels so tainted with sadness, grief, and trauma.
So, I just wanted to share something different, more uplifting, about the way we are connected—a glimpse into my life that also reflects the ways our community is listening, growing, nurturing, and elevating each other. I often find myself at these intersections of wonderfully talented people (most who’ve never met each other), and I’m so grateful that I get to witness the evolution of these ties that bind us.
My example starts with a message chat with Taiwan TV/media celebrity Janet Hsieh 謝怡芬 and an inquiry about the tender, yet powerful reflection piece by Jocelyn Shannon Chung, which leads to my PRIDE in recently bringing together three talented local Bay Area children’s book authors—Joanna Ho, Crystal Z. Lee, Margaret Chiu Greanias—with the help of my equally amazing TaiwaneseAmerican.org EIC Leona Chen. Then, I read an email from National Book Award winner Charles Yu to us and the team about young talented awardees Jireh Deng & Candice Wang from our Creative Writing Prizes who CONNECTED with each other in real life. In my mind, this circles right back to an announcement about a professional collaboration between Jocelyn and author/illustrator Julia Kuo.
THIS is the beautiful interconnectedness of our COMMUNITY. All the names I’ve mentioned happen to be storytellers—but all of us, with spirit like this, have the power to LIFT each other up and RISE together. THIS is what I want you to know about the heart, the voices of 2nd & 3rd generation Taiwanese America. We trace our lineage from proud, resilient Taiwanese immigrants. This is OUR STORY.
Thank you to all participants for telling yours.
We are so grateful, so touched, and so much braver because of you.