When this translation first appeared in 1986, Ch'en Ying-chen was already hailed as a central figure in the Native Literature movement in Taiwan. Ch'en, who spent seven years in prison on political "subversion" charges, is known for his often brutal honesty about rural poverty and the bland hypocrisies of the middle class. Deeply moral, Ch'en's nine stories here capture his personal alienation, touching on issues of racism, business ethics, and social nonconformity that continue to worry Chinese society on both sides of the straits.
Lucien Miller's translation deftly conveys the force and the spirit of Ch'en's prose; his colloquial American English suits Chen's jabs at Taiwan's Americanization. This was the first collection of Ch'en's stories to appear in English and its stories still challenge readers with Ch'en's keen social consciousness and commitment to the Chinese literary tradition.
Lucien Miller is Professor of Comparative Literature, University of Massachusetts, Amherst.