As part of the modern Chinese literature series, "The Membranes (膜)," a classic of queer speculative fiction in Chinese by Taiwanese writer Chi Ta-wei (紀大偉) will be published by the Columbia University Press in New York.
First published in Taiwan in 1995, "The Membranes" reveals the diversity and originality of contemporary speculative fiction in Chinese, exploring gender and sexuality, technological domination, and regimes of capital, all while applying an unflinching self-reflexivity to the reader’s own role. The story sets against the backdrop of a future metropolis in the late 21st century, with the opening scene of a doomsday scenario. Momo, who works as the most celebrated dermal care technician in T City, meets her estranged mother and she begins to explore her true identity afterwards, a journey that leads to questioning the bounds of gender, memory, self, and reality.
Chi weaves dystopian tropes—heirloom animals, radiation-proof combat drones, sinister surveillance technologies—into a sensitive portrait of one young woman’s quest for self-understanding. In addition to sci-fi and queer elements, Chi also adopts conventions of detective and suspense fiction.
25 years after its initial publication in Chinese, Ari Larissa Heinrich, a professor of Chinese Literature and media at the Australian National University, has produced a new English-language translation of this landmark novel. Her translation brings Chi’s hybrid punk sensibility to all readers interested in books that test the limits of where speculative fiction can go.
Chi is a renowned writer and scholar from Taiwan. Chi’s scholarly work focuses on LGBT studies, disability studies, and Sinophone literary history, while his award-winning creative writing ranges from science fiction to queer short stories. He is an associate professor of Taiwanese literature at the National Chengchi University.