If you’re considering a visit to Taiwan and want to dive into its rich tapestry of culture and history beforehand, there’s an array of English-language books to guide your exploration. However, with such a vast selection, you might find yourself wondering where to begin.
Navigating the World of Taiwan Literature
Having relocated from New Zealand to Taiwan in the mid-1990s, John Grant Ross embarked on a literary quest to devour everything related to his adopted homeland. His extensive reading led to the creation of a 328-page compendium titled ‘Taiwan in 100 Books.’
In Search of Taiwan’s Essence: A Curated Collection
Inclusion in Ross’s compilation came with a single criterion: the book had to revolve, wholly or partially, around Taiwan or be set within its borders. This encompassed fiction and nonfiction, scholarly tomes and lighthearted narratives, without bias towards heavyweight publishers. Ross even embraced self-published works, believing that the essence of Taiwan could be found in unexpected places.
Unearthing Hidden Gems: Reintroducing Forgotten Titles
Among the 100 featured titles, some had faded into obscurity before Camphor Press, co-founded by Ross and publisher of ‘Taiwan in 100 Books,’ breathed new life into them. ‘The Jing Affair’ by D.J. Spencer, a novel born in 1965, is one such revival, described by Ross as ‘good fun, farfetched but very clever.’ Additionally, Ross spotlights ‘A Culinary History of Taipei: Beyond Pork and Ponlai,’ a comprehensive exploration of Taiwanese cuisine co-authored by himself, praising its depth and breadth.
A Literary Mosaic: Covering Diverse Ground
Ross’s literary voyage across Taiwan’s spectrum is expansive. He identifies a particular strength in Cold War narratives, both in fiction and nonfiction, as well as in works hailing from the mid- to late 1980s, an era synonymous with the ‘economic miracle.’
Bridging Gaps and Celebrating Passion
While Ross’s compilation paints a vivid literary portrait of Taiwan, he acknowledges gaps in the English-language coverage of the island. Notably, an abundance of books delve into Taiwanese cinema, yet a comprehensive introduction to Taiwan’s wildlife remains elusive. Ross suggests that this disparity may reveal something about the academic focus on certain fields. Nonetheless, he applauds amateurs who have filled these gaps, such as the German engineer who meticulously documented Taiwan’s ferns and the son of American missionaries who captured the island’s 1960s railway infrastructure through photography.
Your First Step on the Path to Taiwan
‘Taiwan in 100 Books’ is not intended to be your sole literary guide to Taiwan but rather the initial stride on your journey of discovery. To embark on the best possible exploration of Taiwan, consider a personalized trip with a car and a personal driver-guide—our preferred way to experience the island. Contact us today, and our seasoned travel designers will eagerly share their expertise to craft a tailored adventure that aligns with your preferences and desires.