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Editor/Author | Lee Chin-lien

  • Date:2024-01-16
Editor/Author | Lee Chin-lien

Chinese Name: 李金蓮

Born: July 8, 1956

Birthplace: Taipei

Did You Know That…?

Lee Chin-lien has held positions at Huan Hua Publishing Company (環華出版公司), China Times Publishing Co. (時報出版公司), and the China Times (中國時報). She has received awards such as the China Times Literature Award (時報文學獎), the Golden Tripod Award (金鼎獎) for Publishing Reporting, Literary Book Award, and the Special Contribution Award. She has published a collection of short stories titled “Mountain Sounds (山音),” a full-length novel titled “Records of Floating Water (浮水錄),” and a collection of short stories titled “Dark Roads (暗路).” Currently, she is a freelance writer.

After graduating from vocational school, Lee Chin-lien began her career in publishing and gained recognition for her literary contributions, eventually publishing the short story collection “Mountain Sounds” at the age of around 30. She received the highest honor, the Special Contribution Award, at the 2013 Golden Tripod Awards. Lee, who retired just one year prior, had served as an editor and EIC for “Opening the Book” at the China Times for 24 years. During her tenure, she tirelessly pursued her ideals and selflessly contributed to the promotion of reading in both urban and rural areas. Through professional planning and promotion, she helped bring Taiwanese original works into the spotlight, and her contributions to publishing and reading promotion were widely recognized.

“Opening the Book” at the China Times is one of Taiwan’s few remaining literary review sections. It was established in 1988, a year after martial law was lifted in Taiwan and press censorship ended, leading to an increase in newspaper publications. Taking advantage of this environment and recognizing the flourishing Taiwanese cultural scene, the founder of the China Times, Yu Chi-chung (余紀忠), emulated The New York Times Book Review and officially launched “Opening the Book” on April 24 of the same year. Lee Chin-lien served as an editor and later as chief editor, accompanying “Opening the Book” throughout her career until her retirement.

In addition to playing a crucial role in promoting reading culture, Lee Chin-lien pioneered a new approach to engaging with modern readers, ensuring that the literary review section thrived even in challenging circumstances. In 1996, she brought “Opening the Book” into the era of Book Videos (BV) to promote award-winning books and encourage local literary creation. For six consecutive years, Lee personally directed BV adaptations for books that received the “Good Book Award.” She collaborated with emerging film directors in Taiwan and authors to create these BV adaptations. In the sixth year, she made history by inviting cultural and entertainment figures from various fields to collaborate, with 13 celebrities recommending books. This innovative BV promotional model, linking all reading locations, was unprecedented in Taiwan and significantly impacted both authors and readers.

Furthermore, Lee Chin-lien worked to foster a nationwide reading culture. She initiated contact with libraries across Taiwan, inviting them to exhibit the annual Good Book selections from “Opening the Book.” Although this was not part of her editorial responsibilities, Lee volunteered to connect with libraries throughout Taiwan, contacting them one by one to arrange exhibitions. During this process, the editor-in-chief from Taipei formed close relationships with diligent library staff from various regions, understanding their passion for promoting reading and the challenges they faced. Some libraries had never hosted visits from authors before. Thus, Lee began to consider how to bridge the gap between books, authors, and libraries. This idea eventually evolved into a collaboration between “Opening the Book” and the National Museum of Taiwan Literature, inviting authors to visit local libraries.

After retiring, Lee Chin-lien turned to novel writing. In 2016, she published her first full-length novel, “Records of Floating Water,” which depicted the lives of ordinary people during a transformative era. The novel spanned from the 1960s, portraying the joys and sorrows of two generations of seemingly insignificant individuals as they sought meaning in their lives. In 2023, Lee published a collection of short stories titled “Dark Roads,” in which she wrote seven short stories over five years, reflecting the various struggles faced by people living in challenging circumstances. These stories shed light on the solitude experienced by modern individuals through seven different perspectives.

Despite retiring, Lee Chin-lien still harbors many dreams. She hopes to promote a “Novel Town Project” in small towns, aiming to make everyone fall in love with reading. She even envisions a world where the question “What novel have you read recently?” has become a common greeting.