To promote Taiwan's literature and culture to Japanese readers, Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office (TECO) in Japan and Eslite Spectrum Nibonbashi joined forces to launch an online and offline lecture titled "Novel-Writing In Our Era" (我們這時代的「小說書寫」) on Aug. 20.
Taiwanese contemporary woman writer Tsai Su-Fen (蔡素芬) and Japanese Naoki Prize winner Kakuta Mitsuyo (角田光代) were invited to be the speakers in the event.
During the conversation, Tsai and Kakuta shared their experiences of creative process of the latest works, the prospects for future works, and the impact on the creation of novels during the pandemic where face-to-face contact is impossible in addition to discussing other topics such as marriage and novel writing in Taiwan and Japan, gender, minorities, and travel, among others.
Kakuta has been considered as one of the leading authors representing Japan and had another conversation with Tsai in Taiwan Literature Festival in 2016. After five years, they talked about Tsai's latest work "The Blue House (藍屋子)," published in January and Kakuta's newly translated work "The Tale of Genji (源氏物語)" completed last year.
Regarding whether to write a COVID-19 story during the pandemic, Tsai stated that she has not made distinct observations since the "incident" occurred. She believed that it will take some time to be able to describe the pandemic in a better way.
Kakuta said she learned a lot from traveling and Taiwan is her first destination if she can go abroad. Hence, the inability to travel around during the pandemic may be one of her challenges in writing novels.
Director of Taiwan Cultural Center Wang Shu-fang (王淑芳) stated that this year’s first event "Time Traveler - In Search of Taiwan's History (時空的旅人─尋找台灣歷史)" showcased historical novels by Tsai and other works in Chinese by famous documentary writers including "The Blue House (藍屋子)," "The Daughter of Kaohsiung (大港的女兒)," "Island Ukiyoe (島嶼浮世繪)."
Other selected works translated to Japanese ranged from "The Child of Salt Pan (鹽田兒女)," "The Olive Tree (橄欖樹)," "Decoding Taiwan's Contemporary Artist Chen Cheng-Po (陳澄波密碼)" by Ko Tsung-ming (柯宗明), "The Dark Backward (下一個天亮)" by Hsu Chia-tse (徐嘉澤), "A Carpenter And His Taiwan Exposition (一個木匠與他的臺灣博覽會)" by Chen Rou-jin (陳柔縉). The sales target was exceeded expectations.
TECO in Japan said the office will continue to organize a series of activities related to Taiwanese publishing in Japan in the future and cooperate with publishers and bookstores to promote quality Taiwanese books in Japan.