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The 23rd Taipei Literature Award

About the Award-Winning Works
Submissions were accepted for the 23rd Taipei Literature Award from November to December 2020, with prize money of NT$2.53 million. The year’s submissions totaled 1,600 and the quality was higher than ever. In addition to those from the many cities and counties of Taiwan, there were submissions from many other countries in Europe, America, and Asia. The oldest entrant was 87 and the youngest 11, showing that literary creation has no age limit. The award-winning works covered diverse topics and presented different aspects of urban landscapes and everyday life experience .
The 23 award-winning works were mainly written by authors from Taiwan, with five coming from China, Hong Kong, Malaysia, and other countries. Naturally, there were also wins by authors already familiar to readers in Taiwan. It is obvious that the Taipei Literature Award offers an open ground for Chinese-language writers from many different places and of different nationalities.
First prize in the Short Story category went to Mou Touying from Sichuan, China, whose “Aiyu Jelly at Benyuan Temple” skillfully traces the links between the aiyu jelly frequently sold in streets of Taipei during the summer and the wild jelly‑fig that grows in the mountainous areas of Zhejiang in China. The jury noted that the initially mysterious metaphors and geographical associations at the beginning of the story are later integrated organically, revealing a well-designed plot that is really worth a repeat reading.
In the Essay category, Eson, a commercial aircraft pilot, won first prize with “Minor Illness,” an autobiographical work that takes the COVID-19 pandemic as a background. As the pilot of a passenger plane, Eson earns the nickname “God of Plague.” He suffers from prostatitis and plans to consult a doctor. The author describes how he puts up with all the indignities of epidemic prevention procedure, taking care and being cautious to make sure his passengers are reassured. The jury found the author’s simple and concise language developed into a stable narrative entirely free of negativity or demonizing of individuals or groups, and that this provided an elegant and charming account of real-life events.
In the Modern Poetry category, first prize went to “Among Objects” by Malaysian Bai Fan Yu (who also won the Jury’s Award at the 2019 Hua Zong Literary Award). The poem is a retrospective look at the “uselessness” and “unreliability” of human fragility, heartlessness, and self-limitations constructed through observation of everyday objects. The jury considered it to be a poem about things with a dual emphasis on both sense and sensibility and laden with profound philosophical implications.
In the Classical Poetry category, the winner was Lin Hsiu-Chu, who won with “Four Poems on the Shilin Residence Chrysanthemum Festival,” based on the Capital Residence Chrysanthemum Festival. Despite being a full-time homemaker who homeschools her children, Lin is a frequent winner of prestigious literary awards. The jury praised her diction as “flawless, apt, fluent, and comprehensive.” She tactfully uses the theme of chrysanthemums to discuss the real subject (humanity) with mature language and skillful brushwork.
In the Play category, millennial Chen Hung-Yang won first prize with the play “Home To You.” The jury commented on the author’s skillful use of individual and ensemble scenes. He uses vivid, three-dimensional dialogue to explore our dark sides and even challenges the form of the traditional play. This is a novel work that is unafraid to take risks.
Three contributors were selected for this year’s Taipei Literary Award Scholarship Project: Joanne Deng, You Shu-Hsun, and Leung Lee-Chi. Joanne Deng was funded for her novel project Second Female Lead, the story of an actress based on her own experience. Deng also hopes to use different perspectives to portray the film industry environment and how women try to survive in it.
You Shu-Hsun’s project, The Rain of Tsou, is a story about Russian-Japanese scholar Nikolai Nevsky, who came to Taiwan in 1927, and Tsou person Uong’e Yatauyungana. The novel depicts the history of the Tsou people and of relations with Russia with an epic scope.
Leung Lee-Chi from Hong Kong was selected for her short story collection The Melancholy of Trees, which compares and contrasts Taiwan and Hong Kong in a variety of different stories. Juror Li Jin-Lian said: “This work is ready to publish.”
All the prize-winning works from the 23rd Taipei Literature Award have been collected in My Literary Ideas: Collected Works from the 23rd Taipei Literature Award and have also been published on the Award website and featured in posters on the Taipei metro or used in broadcast media and theaters.