Novelist insisted on name change to sound ‘voice from Taiwan’

Taiwanese novelist Wu Ming-Yi (???) said Saturday in London that his insistence on the correct designation of his home country in a recent international competition was meant to give prominence to a voice from Taiwan.

Wu became the first Taiwanese writer to be nominated for the Man Booker International Prize when the English version of his Chinese-language novel "The Stolen Bicycle (?????)" appeared on the long list of 13 novels published by the Booker Prize Foundation on March 12.

He was originally listed as a national of Taiwan but that was later changed to "Taiwan, China" following a complaint lodged by the Chinese embassy in London.

Wu later protested the change, prompting the organizers of the prize to change back the name of his country to Taiwan.

Although Wu's book ultimately did not win the prestigious prize, he was invited by Taiwan's representative office in the United Kingdom to speak at two seminars in London on Aug. 17 and 18.

Speaking to CNA on the sidelines of the Aug. 17 event, Wu said he insisted on changing back the name of his home country "not to prove anything but to give prominence to a voice from Taiwan."

Taiwan is under tremendous suppression on international stage, therefore, the voices of its 23 million people need to be heard, he said.

"I'm one of those voices, and I insisted on letting others hear that voice," Wu said.

He also said that he would like to see greater co-existence of cultural identities in Taiwan.

"I hope Taiwan can accept and tolerate all cultural identities," he said. "Only by respecting each other's identities can we accept each other and embrace one another's cultures. Otherwise, the national identity issue in Taiwan could divide its people and destroy all the shared emotions of its people and all the possibilities, resulting in tragedy."

"The Stolen Bicycle" tells the story of a writer who embarks on an epic quest in search of his missing father's stolen bicycle and soon finds himself caught up in the stories of Lin Wang (??), the oldest elephant that ever lived; the soldiers who fought in the jungles of South-East Asia during the World War II; and the secret worlds of the butterfly handicraft makers and antique bicycle fanatics of Taiwan.

Wu said the book was not aimed at educating readers about history

or telling a moral tale.

"I just want readers to fall into the magic of the novel itself and if during the process they become interested in the history of Taiwan or the philology, that would be a bonus," he said.

The Man Booker International Prize, established in 2005, is awarded annually to authors around the world for their original contribution in the field of fictional literature initially published in a language other than English.

Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel