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Judges Charles Yu and Shawna Yang Ryan select award recipients

We are pleased to announce the inaugural 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. Their work will be published on TaiwaneseAmerican.org throughout the year. 

We received a remarkable number of thoughtful, passionate entries, each of which was carefully reviewed and deliberated by the judges, and each was its own important testament to how gifted young Taiwanese American writers are. Through these prizes and virtual events, we hope to foster community and discussion with writers like you, and to encourage and support your work. As Ho Chie Tsai, founder of TaiwaneseAmerican.org said, “I hope one day this leads to a Taiwanese American authors, writers, journalists, and storytellers conference of some sort. I seriously think we might get to that point within a few years.”

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 winners are:

HIGH SCHOOL
Winner: Spencer Chang (Poetry)
Judges’ Remarks: “In this sophisticated collection of poems confronting personal and community history, Spencer Chang elegantly uses a variety of poetic forms, white space, and highly original images to great emotional effect. In language where violence and beauty collide, Chang illuminates historical events such as the 228 Massacre, the murder of Vincent Chin, and the sacrifice of the Chinese in the building of the Transcontinental Railroad. Ultimately, these striking poems demonstrate how our personal and public histories are inextricable.”
Finalists: Phoebe Ga-Yi Chan, Garrett Paik, Cosette Wu
 
COLLEGE
Winner: Dri Chiu Tattersfield (Short Story)
Judges’ Remarks: “In this subtle and imaginative story, Dri Chiu Tattersfield explores questions of identity, family, foreignness and the body. The writing is nuanced and careful and emotionally grounded, evoking a sense of place and depth of feeling. This is an accomplished work by a promising voice.”
Finalists: Jireh Deng, Katy Hargett-Hsu, Candice Wang

Additionally, there were several Honorable Mentions:

HIGH SCHOOL
Katie Chen, Jaja Hashimoto, Britney Chen, Avery Lin Cummins
COLLEGE
Ashley Cheng, Emily Lo, Ying-Ann Chen, Jennifer Co, Carrie Hsu, Claire Kuo, Nnadi Samuel, Vanessa Wan, Huiru May Huang

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

TAIWANESEAMERICAN.ORG

THE BETTY L. YU AND JIN C. YU CREATIVE WRITING PRIZES

TaiwaneseAmerican.org 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 April 18, 2021 11:59 PM PT (extended deadline). 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 TaiwaneseAmerican.org 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)

CLICK FOR SUBMISSION PORTAL (Google Form)

Please direct all inquiries to leona@taiwaneseamerican.org.

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 TaiwaneseAmerican.org, 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:

wired.com
nytimes.com
suduvu.com
io9.com
thedailybeast.com


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: http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=149968868370668

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 TaiwaneseAmerican.org, 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:
http://www.nytimes.com/2010/09/05/books/review/Monson-t.html

Wired.com review:
http://www.wired.com/geekdad/2010/08/review-how-to-live-safely-in-a-science-fictional-universe/

SF Signal review:
http://www.sfsignal.com/archives/2010/08/review-how-to-live-safely-in-a-science-fictional-universe-by-charles-yu/

Time Magazine “Things to Do” List:
http://www.time.com/time/specials/packages/article/0,28804,1952673_2016033_2016020,00.html

GQ Magazine interview:
http://www.gq.com/blogs/the-q/2010/09/the-verge-qa-author-charles-yu.html


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


video from suvudu.com

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:

suduvu.com
io9.com
thedailybeast.com

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

9/20/2010 7:30 PM
SKYLIGHT BOOKS reading/launch party
1818 N. VERMONT AVE.
LOS ANGELES, CA 90027

9/21/2010 7 PM
CERRITOS PUBLIC LIBRARY
18025 BLOOMFIELD AVE
CERRITOS, CA 90703

9/22/2010 7 PM
UNIVERSITY BOOK STORE
4326 UNIVERSITY WAY NE
SEATTLE, WA 98106-5809

9/22/2010 4:00 PM
ELLIOTT BAY BOOK CO
1521 10th Ave
SEATTLE, WA 98104

9/23/2010 7:30 PM
POWELL’S BOOKS
1005 W BURNSIDE
PORTLAND, OR 97209

9/24/2010 7 PM
BOOKS INC
1760 4TH ST
BERKELEY, CA 94710

9/27/2010 7 PM
MCNALLY JACKSON BOOKSELLERS
52 PRINCE STREET
NEW YORK, NY 10012

9/28/2010 7 PM
BROOKLINE BOOKSMITH
279 HARVARD STREET
BROOKLINE, MA 02446

10/9/2010 2 PM
MYSTERIOUS GALAXY
7051 CLAIREMONT MESA BLVD #302
SAN DIEGO, CA 92111

For updates or other scheduled readings, visit:
http://www.randomhouse.com/author/results.pperl?authorid=117447&view=event


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 TaiwaneseAmerican.org!

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 TaiwaneseAmerican.org. 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: http://thebrothersyu.com – 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: http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0950515/

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…


Lithification, and Other Processes, by Dri Chiu Tattersfield

GRAND PRIZE WINNING ENTRY, COLLEGE CATEGORY

“In this subtle and imaginative story, Dri Chiu Tattersfield explores questions of identity, family, foreignness and the body. The writing is nuanced and careful and emotionally grounded, evoking a sense of place and depth of feeling. This is an accomplished work by a promising voice.” -Shawna Yang Ryan and Charles Yu, co-judges of the 2021 Betty L. Yu & Jin C. Yu Creative Writing Prizes.


The day my body started disappearing began with a phone call. 

My supervisor shot me a dirty look as I knocked my elbow against our just-settled sediment samples, turning each test tube into a thunderstorm of silt. 

“Mei, I’m at the lab,” I sighed. Didn’t most 17-year-olds just text?

“Nice to hear your voice too, sis.” 

“I’m not — never mind.” I bit my lip. 

“What?” Mei groaned. “Li, what do you want me to say? ‘My dearest sibling’? I’m just speaking naturally.” 

I exhaled. “Why’d you call?” 

“Dude, you gotta come home. I think Mom is like, depressed or something. She hardly even speaks anymore! Dad’s just writing it off as usual, so he’s no help.” 

Mei and I had always ignored the fissures in our family by throwing ourselves into school activities: science for me, softball for her. It never occurred to me that the structure might crack. “Maybe she should go to therapy,” I suggested. 

“Now you’re the crazy one,” Mei replied. “Mom and Dad think that’s for white people.” I rolled my eyes, but she was right. It had taken several awkward interventions from roommates for me to unlearn the idea that mental health was only for “emotionally confused Americans.” 

“Come on, you deal with this better than me,” Mei continued. “And maybe just seeing you home will shake her out of it.”

I thought about Mom’s many silences: her disapproving glare when she caught Mei sneaking out, her pursed lips when I shaved my head. Her downcast eyes when Dad interrupted her over and over. I imagined the silences getting longer and longer until one day becoming permanent; my stomach sank. 

“Okay, I’ll take the bus to Garibaldi tomorrow. But only for the weekend, got it?” A tiny town on the Oregon coast, Garibaldi is only four hours away from the University of Washington, but I constantly found excuses to avoid going home: a prestigious talk invitation, a conference I needed for networking, fieldwork that was only possible on Christmas, you know, geologically. My girlfriend Maria didn’t even miss her family’s weekly Scrabble night when she broke her leg. I told my therapist the only similarity between our parents is that they don’t understand mayonnaise — the final barrier in the great obstacle course of American assimilation. — 

Sleep usually comes quickly when Maria stays over, but that night I couldn’t un-tense, my skin wrinkling and tightening over and over. I concentrated on the rise and fall of Maria’s slow breathing, trying to ignore my body. Instead, I mapped out Maria’s: the soft curve of her shoulder, the ellipse of her hip, the axis of her spine. Her body a home mine had never been. 

Outside my window, the moon surfaced through the thick Pacific Northwest clouds. Gibbous is my favorite phase: asymmetrical and unsure, unlike the others’ perfectionist geometries. I traced the moonlight across my room, through my arm, onto Maria’s waist— through my arm? I closed my eyes and concentrated on the feeling of Maria’s skin on mine, then looked again. The smooth skin of her stomach shone in the moonlight, as if my arm wasn’t there. I turned away, feeling unsettled. Was school stress getting to me?

I imagined my body turning into light, spreading out into everything and nothing, and I drifted off to sleep. 

— 

As the Greyhound rolled into the bus stop, I took in all the ways Garibaldi had changed: Tina’s Fish & Chips repainted their sign from green to blue. A tanned older woman in an “oreGUNian” sweatshirt spat on the sidewalk, expanding the crusted mosaic of tobacco stains. Across the street, rust crept up the iron gates guarding empty vacation homes and AirBnBs; their front doors opened directly to the beach, but the street-facing side needed protection. We called them the bubble wrap—if a tsunami ever hit, the houses along the shoreline would go first. 

Besides our shared disdain for the vacationers, the two halves of the Garibaldi shared no overlap. The white families had been here for generations, running seafood restaurants in the summer and sending fish to Portland the rest of the year. The Asian families came more recently and were here for the clams. Tillamook Bay was the richest shellfish habitat in the state, and every morning at low tide we waded in, digging clams out of the popping mud until the sea returned. My parents initially tried to make friends with the fishermen, but Confederate flag stickers began appearing on pickup trucks soon after they moved in, and they took note. 

That’s the explanation I offered friends when they asked why I went home so rarely: it’s a small town. A really small town. They had nodded knowingly, imagining GOD HATES GAYS signs in crumbling front yards. It’s the explanation I gave myself, too. 

The sound of sneakers slapping pavement announced Mei flying down the hill. “SORRY I’M LATE, I WAS ON TIKTOK!” she hollered. 

“No worries, you didn’t have to come pick me up,” I replied. “How’s Mom?”

Mei pouted. “How are you, Mei? I’m great, thanks for asking!” she said in a high voice, moving her hands like puppets. In sixth grade, she got the part of Townsperson #3 in the school’s production of Beauty and the Beast, and claims to have been forever changed. I used to be fluent in distinguishing her real emotions from theatrics, but now I wasn’t totally sure. “Okay, sorry. How are you doing?” 

“Your sister that you’ve only seen once in the last year is doing great,” she replied, pouting. “Anyway, Mom’s on a walk. It’s all she does these days. They get longer every week.” We trudged up the hill, slicing through a cross-section of Garibaldi: the restaurant owners’ condos with ocean views, the fishermens’ mobile homes, then finally our house tucked into the woods. 

“Remember ol’ Big G?” Mei asked, pointing at the massive letter cradled by the adjacent hillside. 

“How could I forget omniscient G?” I laughed. 

Mei nodded somberly. “Good, you’re still under its protection. Don’t worry, okay?” She grinned and skipped ahead. Remembering last night, I glanced at my arm, but it was fully visible. 

Dad greeted us in a tan polo shirt covered in stains, studying me under the wall of his eyebrows. Even while sorting clams, he never wore T-shirts. “Hello. Yes. You’re visiting.” “Yeah, um, I finally got a free weekend,” I replied. 

“You’re on track for the dissertation?” he asked. It sounded more like a statement than a question. Before I responded, he patted me on the back. “Good. I have to go back to the clams. Glad you’re home. Come help, Mei,” he stated, and they disappeared into the garage.

I wandered through the rooms of the house. Mei’s softball trophies flanked the TV. A faded Mother’s Day card hung on the fridge, signed Li Feng in neat cursive and M E I in scrawled crayon. I noticed for the first time that there were no photos of my parents. 

I headed up to my old room and sank into the bed, dropping my backpack on the floor. It had been the guest room since I left for college, but I could still see the tiny holes in the wall where my decorations were once pinned. I closed my eyes and visualized them: the Strokes poster in the corner, prom photos with Nisha, a calligraphy print from a gift shop in Portland’s Chinatown. When I brought it home Dad frowned and said the characters were inaccurate, but I still put it up. I couldn’t read them anyway, so why did it matter? 

Feeling warm, I turned to the window and realized it probably hadn’t been opened in months. It refused to budge. I reluctantly changed into shorts, which usually either make my hips too visible or fall so far down I look like a preteen Boy Scout; my compromise was extra-small soccer shorts. I tried to avoid looking in the closet mirror, but caught it in my peripheral vision and— 

My left leg was gone. 

I blinked hard, but still didn’t see anything. I could still feel the polyester against my skin, the weight of my foot on the floor. I ran my hands up and down my calves, and they were definitely there. But not visible. I tore off my shorts. Starting at the top of my thigh, my leg gradually faded until it was completely transparent at my knee and below. I tried bending my knee and it felt normal; I dropped my foot to the floor and heard a thud

“Li, Mom’s home, let’s go downstairs!” Mei called.

I pressed my forehead against my knee and stared at the gradient between leg and not-leg, hyperventilating. 

“Come on, girl! What’s taking you so long?” 

I visualized my calves in the blank space they once occupied. 

“Li! Isn’t this what you came home for?” Mei’s voice sounded far away. 

“Just give me a minute.” She stomped down the stairs. 

I called Maria but it went to voicemail. think i’m having a panic attack, I texted. body feeling weird, disconnected? 

“Li, dinnertime!” Dad yelled from downstairs. 

I took a long breath and did the thing I knew how to do best: ignore my body. I pulled on long pants and stumbled downstairs. 

“Hello, Li,” Mom said as I shoved myself into a seat. Her soft voice pulled me into the present: the sturdy oak tabletop, the aroma of rice wine and ginger emanating from the steel soup pot. I looked for clues in her face as to how she was doing. Her cheeks were slightly gray, like a photo that had faded in the sun, but her expression was serene. 

“Hi, Mom.” 

“We’re very proud of Li,” Dad proclaimed, not looking at anyone in particular. Mei nodded, scrolling through Instagram under the table. 

Mom smiled. “What are you working on now?” 

“Well, we’re looking at travertine deposits, a kind of limestone, near the Columbia River Basin, because the palynological record —like, the particles— can indicate climate changes over—”

“Our daughter is so smart,” Dad interrupted. “And she uses all her smarts to study rocks, of all things! But we are still proud.” 

My body tensed. I was used to my parents misgendering me over the phone, but I had forgotten how it felt in person; each word crawled under my skin. Mei could barely handle not calling me her sister, and only referred to me as “they” when I reminded her to. After twenty-five years, how could my parents see me as anything but their daughter? 

On the other hand, that daughter was simply no longer there. Years before I stopped coming home, I threw out most of my makeup and stopped referring to myself with feminine language. Yet for Christmas, Mom still sent me nail polish, and Mei constantly asked when I would grow my hair back out. Who were they seeing when they looked at me? — 

“Li, help your mom with the dishes, will you?” Dad called over his shoulder as he ambled toward the living room. I ducked under the table and cautiously checked my leg: still invisible. Could other people see—not see—or was it just in my head? In whispers around town, and out loud on the internet, I had heard enough times that I was delusional. I rolled down my pants. 

While Mom scrubbed the pans, I fell into the muscle memory of loading the dishwasher. Her hands followed a rhythm, as if she was playing a percussion instrument. “How have you been, Mom?” I ventured. 

“Good.” 

I needed to be more specific. “How are you and Dad?”

Just when I began to worry I had broached a bad topic, she looked up and smiled absently. “You know, we got married when I was your age. 25.” 

I thought about the instability of my life—working irregular hours, living off my measly graduate stipend. Maria and I were just getting serious enough that we could move in together, but I didn’t know where I would get a postdoc next year, if I got one at all. Settling down still felt like a horizon, never getting any closer. 

“Did you feel ready?” I asked. 

She arched an eyebrow. I’d never asked her such a personal question. 

“Well. I had no idea what I wanted back then.” She wrung out the sponge and started filling the rice pot to soak. “But it felt good to make a decision. How about you, do you have a boyfriend?” 

“Yeah, do you have a boyfriend?” Mei cackled, draped over the sofa. She had met Maria over FaceTime, and wouldn’t actually tell my parents about her —probably— but for some reason loved getting right to the edge. 

“No, too busy,” I mumbled. 

Mom nodded. “Your work is complicated. Very stressful. You should visit more often, to relax.” 

Mei snorted. I focused intently on finding the most economical arrangement of plates in the dishwasher. 

“You were always a tomboy, but you’ll find someone,” Mom murmured. For a long time I thought I was attracted to men because I would stare at them — their square jawlines, their broad shoulders, the way their bodies so casually spread out into space. On

the subway, in coffeeshops, across the street. Then I realized my straight friends didn’t really focus on the same things. 

“Girl, what?” Sarah had laughed, swinging her head down from the top bunk in our freshman triple. “The way he slouches?” 

I was the most jealous of taking off your shirt in public. God, to be able to just sling your shirt over your shoulder when the sun gets too hot, to feel the breeze envelop your entire torso— seeing my labmates shirtless last summer when we collected sediment samples on Mt. Hood was the first time I seriously considered top surgery. 

Insurance wouldn’t cover it though — I checked. Even if it did, I was still on my parents’ plan, so Periareolar Top Surgery would be emblazoned on their annual summary, standing out as if it said ALIEN ABDUCTION in capital letters. How would I explain that

“Good night, Li,” Mom called as she drifted into my parents’ bedroom. Through the open door, Dad was reading A History of Mushroom Gathering in Southern China. “Yo, wanna watch Avatar the Last Airbender? I’m on season 2,” Mei asked. “How many times have you rewatched that now, five?” I laughed. Then I saw a text from Maria: call when you’re free! i’m here. “I gotta call Maria. Have fun, though.” We had met kneeling in dirt. The University of Washington Vegetable Farm held volunteer hours each Saturday, and Maria and I were the only two that kept coming back. For a few weeks, we pulled weeds in silence, but I couldn’t stop watching her hands: careful and fluid, in conversation with the soil. When the pomegranate tree swelled with flowers, I picked one and walked over without thinking. “Here,” I presented, a question.

In the guest room, her round face blinked onto my phone screen. “What’s going on, are you okay?” Maria asked. 

“I need to ask you a question.” I took off my pants and pointed the camera at my legs. “What do you see?” 

Maria laughed. “Has walking up the hill buffed up your muscles already?” “So my legs look normal to you,” I said slowly. I wasn’t sure whether that was a relief. I explained what happened that afternoon as best I could, eyeing the door. 

“Want me to come pick you up?” she offered. “I could be there in the morning.” I imagined explaining the scene to my parents: yes, my bus ticket is for tomorrow, no, I’m leaving now, no reason in particular, yes, this is just a friend, goodbye. 

“I think I’ll be okay.” 

After assurances that my body felt physically fine, never better, Maria relented. “Try not to focus on it too much, okay? We’ll figure it out when you get back.” Her face was open and sure, and I felt sure too. 

— 

The morning opened gently. I crawled out of bed and surveyed my body in the mirror feeling strangely calm, like an auditor making a routine inspection. My limbs faded in and out of my reflection with each blink: left hand, right arm, both calves. The velocity made me dizzy. Tectonic plates shift 0.6 inches a year, and sedimentary rocks form over millennia. I think I wanted to study earth processes because their stability comforted me; I could handle their rates of change. I looked down, and my thighs were invisible.

Could this have been going on for weeks? When Mei broke my bathroom mirror on her last visit after insisting on indoor baseball practice, I just swept up the shards and never thought to replace it. Reaching for a sports bra, I thought about all the times I’ve wished my chest would disappear. Sports bras flatten my chest, but the pressure of fabric against skin is also a constant reminder that my chest has something to flatten. Wearing no bra means I don’t feel my chest at all, which means I can forget it exists if I close my eyes and forget that people around me also have eyes. I choose the sports bra about three times a week; I gave all my other bras to Mei. Would it be easier if I just couldn’t see my body at all? 

— 

Walking down the stairs, I saw Mom lacing up her running shoes. “Are you going on a walk? Wait for me!” I called out. 

She put on a sunhat with a small ribbon, and then set one of Mei’s baseball caps on my head. “Don’t want to get dark,” she said quietly. 

I followed her out the door and down the hill, surprised at my difficulty keeping up. She moved like a hummingbird in quick strides, occasionally pausing to examine flowers and other plants. 

“Where are we going?” I asked. She glanced back and smiled. 

I caught up to her and tried to ask how she was doing again, but she gazed intently at the pattern of moss on a tree and didn’t respond. Mom waved to Mrs. Tran in her garden, tending to green onions, and Mr. Chang in his yard scrubbing a rusty clamming rake. As we approached the ocean, she sped up and looked down. I caught the eye of Mr. Wilson, my old math teacher, but he didn’t recognize me.

The vacation homes’ dwindling size and increasingly faded paint indicated that the beach on the other side was transitioning to tidal flats. I knew where we were going. A narrow path opened between two houses and we slipped through. The pier, a long arm reaching into the ocean, introduced itself in English: Open 5am-10pm. Fish cleaning station limited to one group at a time. There was no path down to the water through the barnacle-crusted rocks, but there was a sign, in Mandarin, Korean and Vietnamese: 20 clams per recreational permit, 200 per commercial permit. Scrawled in black marker at the top, in English, GO AWAY. “Why did you and Dad move here?” I asked. 

“To sell clams,” Mom replied. 

“I know, but why not stay in Portland?” 

The sea stacks offshore rose out of the water like fists. In college I learned they form when waves erode a chunk of rock until it separates from the landmass; I tried to visualize the land that once connected them to the shore. 

“Your father missed the ocean. He grew up in a fishing town in Yilan. He worked hard so he could move to an American city, but when he got there he wasn’t happy.” My parents rarely talked about Portland, and never talked about Taiwan. “But didn’t you grow up in Taipei? Do you miss living in a city?” 

“City life isn’t so special,” Mom replied. I studied her face for traces of nostalgia, but couldn’t be sure. “Do you like Seattle more than here?” she asked. 

Leaving Garibaldi had been my central goal since middle school; it kept me up through each all-nighter, drove each college application. “I’m happy,” I nodded. 

Back at the top of the hill, we stopped on the sidewalk and gazed at the town together.

“The thing I like about cities is that they’re always changing. Garibaldi stays the same.” “It’s changed since we moved here,” Mom shrugged. 

I turned to face the house. “Home feels the same to me.” 

“Hmm.” Mom paused. “I repainted the stairs last week. Dad’s been spraying fungicide on the moss, although this spring it grew back. And we replaced the house number plaque in January.” 

In fieldwork I learned to use space to study time, still landscapes becoming lively dancers through layers of rock and shapes of sand grains. I thought about how easy it was for me to view a granite cliff as dynamic, and how hard it was to view home as anything but static. Did Mom, Dad, and Mei see me in the same way? 

“What else has changed?” I asked as we walked inside. 

“You never used to ask these kinds of questions,” Mom replied, smiling. She sunk into the sofa and checked her Minnie Mouse watch, a Disneyland souvenir from ten years ago. “Can you and Mei make lunch? I drove into Portland yesterday and went to 99 Ranch Market.” Some things do stay the same. 

“Meeeeeeeiiii! We gotta cook!” I yelled. 

I knew she would take at least ten minutes to come down, so I started exploring the fridge. The introduction to Blue Planet floated in from the living room and I grinned, remembering rewatching episodes with Mom over and over in high school. I obsessed over the reef structures, while Mom loved the crowding schools of fish; our interests formed a symbiotic whole, like coral polyps and algae.

Absentmindedly, I sorted the produce on the counter, grouping them by leaf shape and stem thickness. I knew these were traditional Chinese vegetables, but fragments of characters swirled in my mind, just out of reach. The kitchen was a botanical exhibit by the time Mei arrived, every surface awash with green. 

“You’re so weird,” she said, laughing. “Not everything is a science experiment, you know.” I pouted and swept the vegetal taxonomy aside. We began the methodical dance of creating a meal, Mei chopping vegetables, me preparing the rice. “My hands are sore, dude. Your turn,” she whined. 

I glanced at the blank space that should have been my right arm, and then the glinting edge of the knife in her hands. “Um.” I pause. “Do I have to?” 

Mei scowled. “Lazy-ass,” she hissed, but she let it go. 

As the vegetables sizzled in soy sauce, I turned to Mei. “What were you worried about with Mom again?” I whispered. “She doesn’t seem that bad.” 

“I mean, she’s not like, dying or anything,” Mei whispered back. “But she’s getting more and more distant.” 

I frowned. “You made it sound really serious when you called,” I replied, moving the pan off the heat. “I dropped my weekend plans to come home. I’ve been trying to talk to Mom, but besides being a little out of it she seems fine.” 

Mei laughed. “What plans do you have besides reading papers or whatever?” She reached behind me to take four bowls from the cabinet. “I’m just worried about her, okay? I thought seeing you would be good for her. And it’s probably good for you to get out of your tiny apartment.”

I crossed my arms. “Are you worried about Mom, or about me?” 

I heard Dad’s lumbering footsteps. “Do I smell lunch?” he called out. 

“What’s wrong with wanting my sister to visit? You basically ditched us after you left for college. What’s so terrible about coming home?” Mei demanded. Didn’t she hear our parents coming? 

“I don’t—” I started. I took a breath. “I just don’t feel… seen here.” 

“What does that mean?” Dad asked, walking into the kitchen with Mom. 

“Um.” My tongue felt too big for my mouth. “I guess I don’t really feel like you see who I am? So I don’t feel like myself here.” 

“What do you mean? You’re our daughter. We see you as our daughter.” 

I buried my face in my hands. 

“Well, how can we see you, if we never see you?” Mei demanded. Lungs felt too big for my ribcage. 

“I just don’t feel super comfortable at home, okay? I don’t know how to explain!” My voice cracked. 

“That’s not so unusual,” Mom said quietly. We turned and faced her. “Feeling uncomfortable at home.” 

Dad furrowed his eyebrows. The silence felt solid, as if the air had changed phases of matter. “I think what Mom means is that we work hard to provide for you, everyone is healthy, and that’s what matters,” he declared. “So. Let’s eat.” 

My breath caught in my throat. “Sorry, I have to go,” I forced out as I ran up the stairs and locked the guest room door. My clothes felt like they were shrinking into my body so I

wrestled them off. In my underwear, I sunk down to the floor and hung my head in my knees, and then I realized — 

I couldn’t see my body at all. 

I looked down and saw only the floor. I stumbled to the mirror and saw only the room behind me. No gradient, no blinking in and out, just blank space. I was not there. A knock on the door. A voice that sounded like it came from underwater. “Li? Can you come out?” Or maybe I was underwater. 

“Li, come to the garage, okay?” Soft footsteps receding. 

I closed my eyes and stood up, propelled by an unfamiliar force. Numb, I pulled on my pajamas and stumbled downstairs. I ignored Dad and Mei’s bewildered stares and entered the garage. 

Mom was sitting on a low stool above a large bucket of clams. 

“These are from this morning. I haven’t sorted and cleaned them yet. Will you help me?” She pointed to a second stool and three empty buckets. I slowly sat down. “Do you still know how?” she asked. 

I shook my head, but I reached into the bucket and my hands remembered: ridged cockles, smooth littlenecks, oval softshells. I gently placed a littleneck clam in the first bucket, keeping my eyes fixed on the swaying trees outside the open garage door. 

The bucket gradually emptied, until my fingers scraped the gritty bottom. “I’m feeling really strange today,” I said.

“I know,” Mom replied. “This is what I do when I’m feeling strange.” She filled the bucket of softshells with water and began to scrub them with her hands. She pointed at the remaining buckets and I filled the first one cautiously, avoiding looking at my arms. “Don’t worry about thinking. Just feel the clams,” Mom said. 

Eyes closed, I picked a small clam and pushed my thumb along its ridges, concentrating on the rough shell against my skin. I thought back to this morning and opened my eyes. Water sloshed seemingly on its own, as if the bucket were a rough sea. Is this what it meant to not have a body? I thought back to all the times I had wanted it to disappear, the times I had wanted to disappear because my body was too soft, round in the wrong places, incongruous with an ideal that I could never even fully visualize. But this emptiness was more terrifying than I could have imagined, like free-falling in darkness with nothing to hold onto. If my body was not here, then where was I? 

I want to be here. I want to be here. I want to be here. 

I wanted my body to be here. 

I felt wetness on my cheeks and I realized I was crying. 

Mom stood up and placed her hand on my shoulder, and we watched the afternoon sunlight inch across the garage floor. 

“Mei asked me to come visit because she was worried about you,” I said after a few minutes. “She said you’ve been getting quieter and more distant.” 

“Oh?” Mom said, pausing. “Don’t worry about me. Now that Mei’s growing up, I finally have some alone time.” 

“What did you mean when you said you weren’t comfortable at home?”

“I—” Mom hesitated. “Well, when Dad and I first moved here, we worked so hard we had no time to think about anything else. I’m just now realizing that I don’t feel like myself. But I’m not sure what to do differently. We’ve settled into such a routine.” 

I thought about lithification: the process by which sediment compacts under pressure and becomes solid rock. I’d never learned a term for a reverse process. 

Mom turned to me. “What did you mean, about not feeling seen?” 

“Do you feel like we know you?” I asked. 

“Of course,” she replied. “We’re family.” 

“But do you feel like we know all of you

“I don’t think anyone can know all of you,” she said slowly. “But that’s just how it is.” She frowned slightly. 

“People can know a lot,” I insisted. I thought about how easy I felt with Maria, how we moved like gravity was at half-strength. How time felt like a garden we grew together, full of both intention and surprise. I thought about how close and distant I felt with Mei. “Wouldn’t it be better if all knew each other more fully?” 

Mom tilted her head. “Well, what do you want us to know?” 

I inhaled sharply, and then faltered. I raised my arm and looked through it at the distant sea stacks along the shoreline. 

“Do you ever sometimes,” I took a breath. “Not even see yourself?”

Author headshot, as shared by Dri Tattersfield

Dri grew up in Taipei, Taiwan and now lives in Portland, OR. They write stories, make video games (at hellodri.itch.io), and are constantly finding more elaborate ways to make instant noodles. He studied physics and philosophy at Claremont McKenna, and is interested in farming, education and community-based science.

From Dri: Lithification and Other Processes has been over a year in the making – I started it in a fiction writing workshop with Professor Kevin Moffett in March 2020 and it kept me company into quarantine & more. I started with certain assumptions about what kind of story this would be, but along with the protagonist Li, my assumptions took on new shapes as the story progressed. Writing is communal! I couldn’t have written this without my writing comrades Laleh Ahmad and Toluwani Roberts, and of course, my family; 謝謝!

Keep up with Dri: Twitter / Facebook / Instagram


Taiwanese Americans: Help Report Anti-AAPI Discrimination

 

Originally published March 2, 2020

 

Taiwanese Americans, our responsibility here is two-fold:
(1) You or someone you know may have been the target of bias, discrimination, or racism related to anti-Chinese and anti-Asian American sentiments due to Covid-19. Asian Americans of all ages and generations report fear of being perceived as the source or carrier of the disease. Please report all incidents & know that you are not alone.

(2) You or someone you know may have been complicit in anti-Chinese rhetoric related to Covid-19 with the intention of positively highlighting Taiwanese efforts to combat the virus. As we’ve said before, pro-Taiwan does not mean anti-China; each is more than their political circumstances. We do not encourage asserting Taiwanese identity solely as a means of deflecting anti-Chinese racism. There are hundreds of reasons to take pride in being of Taiwanese heritage; disassociating ourselves from a community that has been violently and unfairly targeted is not one of them.

Dire circumstances can also produce extravagant acts of generosity and kindness; we’ve seen efforts to direct Taiwan’s commendable PPE (personal protective equipment) production towards hospitals in the US. We’ve seen Taiwanese restaurants donate bentos to frontline healthcare workers. We hope to see more instances of Taiwanese American solidarity with the Chinese American community, of ways we can leverage the things we share instead of drawing apart. Think of the meaningful ways we might be different – in immigration histories, in average socioeconomic status, in access to resources – and how these can inspire us to do more for each other, to have more compassion and understanding. Start with your friends and family. We’re in this together, for the long run.


2021 update, in light of increased violence against Asian Americans, particularly elders:

In an interview with Jay Caspian Kang for the New York Times, Steven Yeun muses, “Sometimes I wonder if the Asian-American experience is what it’s like when you’re thinking about everyone else, but nobody else is thinking about you.”

We felt that so deeply. But every day is an opportunity to put community and collective care at the forefront of our work, to serve and hold each other even when it seems others don’t. ⁠

Today, we’re thinking of the increased violence among Asian America’s most vulnerable. Like you, we are devastated seeing our most valued – our elders – become the victims of such hostility and hatred. ⁠

*And* we’re thinking of how other minority groups, including Hispanic, Black, and Pacific Islander Americans, have stepped into our grief with so much generosity and concern. Let’s be tender about the ways we validate each other’s fears, and smart about what will and won’t address them. Human dignity is not a zero sum game. Anti-blackness cannot be our vengeance. ⁠

Finally, we can be upset that our pain isn’t more widely acknowledged *AND* support longstanding community organizers who have always quietly done the work. We don’t have to wait to be saved. ⁠

We are thinking about you. We always will. ⁠

We defer to the leadership of longstanding grassroots organizers mobilizing and teaching us to meaningfully care for each other:

Op-Ed: The cruel plot twist in the Asian American story | Charles Yu for the LA Times

Stop AAPI Hate | Report a hate incident in one of 12 languages

Asian American Federation Anti-Hate Safety Resources 

Asian Organizations Across the Bay Area Join Forces to Demand Action Against Violence

CAAAV Organizing Asian Communities | CAAAV works to build grassroots community power across diverse poor and working class Asian immigrant and refugee communities in New York City

How to Report a Hate Crime Booklet | Created by Esther Lim, these booklets help educate our beloved Asian community on how to recognize & report Asian hate crimes by distributing visual booklets in 7 languages

Georgia’s Asian American Leaders Call for Community-Centered Response After Six Asian Women Are Murdered | English Statement by Asian Americans Advancing Justice Georgia | 中文版

 


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!


BOOKS
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


FILMS
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:


OTHER MEDIA
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:


FOOD & DRINK
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

Kavalan


JUST FOR FUN
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


TAIWAN’S CHANGE MAKERS
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


IN OUR EYES, TAIWAN IS #1
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!

TAIWANESEAMERICAN.ORG DISCOUNT CODES & AFFILIATE LINKS:

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 TaiwaneseAmerican.org at no additional cost to you)

Support independent bookstores and TaiwaneseAmerican.org by purchasing print books from Bookshop.

COZY DRINKS: A TASTE OF TAIWAN FOR THE HOLIDAYS

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
Follow Us Two Tea on Instagram

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

Shop all from Té Company
Follow Té Company on Instagram

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
Follow Wild Rising on Instagram

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
Follow The Formosa Coffee on Instagram
The Formosa Coffee, interviewed by TaiwaneseAmerican.org


GIFTS THAT KEEP ON GIVING: TAIWANESE AMERICAN SMALL BUSINESSES WITH SOCIAL IMPACT

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

Shop all from Brave Gals
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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
Follow Project Formosa on Instagram
Project Formosa, interviewed by TaiwaneseAmerican.org


LITTLE & LUXE: SMALL LUXURIES FOR LOVED ONES (INCLUDING YOURSELF!)

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
Follow Formosa Chocolates on Instagram

08. ILHA Candles | Fragrant, hand-poured soy candles, made with love in Queens, NY

“Shop our custom scent we created in collaboration with TaiwaneseAmerican.org, 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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GIFTS FOR FOODIES

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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STOCKING STUFFERS

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 TaiwaneseAmerican.org

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

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

Shop all from Pink Agave Designs (etsy)
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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

Shop all from Dear Botanicals (etsy)
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GIFTS TO IMPRESS: SOMETHING SPECIAL FOR YOUR SOMEONE SPECIAL

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

Shop all from Mogutable
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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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GIFTS FOR LITTLES

 

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

Shop all from Happy Masks
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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
Follow Joanna Ho on Instagram

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
Follow Livia Blackburne on Instagram
Follow Julia Kuo on Instagram


BOBA LIFESTYLE: WE ALL HAVE THAT FRIEND… 

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 


STATIONERY

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

Shop all Sticky Rice Sisters
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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

Shop all from Yoseka Stationery
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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

Shop all from A Jar of Pickles
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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
Follow Felicia Chiao on Instagram


BOOKS

(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

Buy ‘Rent a Boyfriend’ from Bookshop
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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

Buy ‘Bestiary’ from Bookshop
Follow K-Ming Chang on Instagram
K-Ming Chang, interviewed by TaiwaneseAmerican.org

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
Follow Jessica J. Lee on Instagram

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
Follow Ed Lin on Instagram

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
Follow Emily X.R. Pan on Instagram

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
Follow Camphor Press on Instagram

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 TaiwaneseAmerican.org Book Shop Lists:

The Taiwanese American Canon

Translated Taiwanese Literature

Taiwan & Taiwanese America Non-Fiction 

Taiwanese American Literature for Children


OTHER GIFTS

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

 

TaiwaneseAmerican.org

TaiwaneseAmerican.org 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 TaiwaneseAmerican.org 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.

Link to donate

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