Li Ang (李昂), one of Taiwan's most provocative writers and social critic, will give a presentation on politics and sexuality titled "Novelist on the Public Stage" at the François Mitterrand headquarters of the National Library of France (BnF, La Bibliothèque nationale de France) on Oct. 5.
Born in 1952 in the northwestern Taiwanese township of Lukang, Li wields her incisive and sensitive pen to break the shackles of social constraints and other societal constructs. Female desire is one of the main themes throughout her novels, in which she examines how different genders and identities are confronted by the rapid changes in society.
Growing up during the transitional period of post-war Taiwan, Li's writing is primarily dominated by the transformation of society, reflecting her view on gender, ethics, and politics. In her early works, she expressed her hatred for the strict educational system in Taiwan and her longing for freedom through stream-of-consciousness narratives.
During the 1970s, Li started to explore the role of women in society from the female perspective. The themes span from coming of age to love, sexuality, and moral values. Then, throughout the 1980s, Li began to raise public awareness on broader social issues such as women's rights.
She first made her controversial voice known through "The Butcher's Wife" in 1983, a story of an orphaned heroine who is forced to marry a brutally sadistic butcher in a small patricidal town. The shocking story of sexual oppression and domestic violence evoked outrage in conservative Taiwan at that time.
In her following works, sexuality is often explored and discussed in depth, using vivid imagery and disturbing themes to provoke polarized opinions and discourse.
Li has stated her purpose in writing is to get people more involved with ongoing social issues, many of which are considered taboo to discuss. In recent years, her writing has shifted along with the changes in society. Much of the darkness that used to dominate her previous works has faded, and she now writes with a different approach as she sees today's society in a new light.
Li will be joined by esteemed literary translator-researcher Annie Curien Bergeret (安妮·居里安) on Oct. 5. The event is open to the public by pre-registration.