Notes of a Desolate Man by Chu T'ien-wen

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Winner of the coveted China Times Novel Prize, this postmodern, first-person tale of a contemporary Taiwanese gay man reflecting on his life, loves, and intellectual influences is among the most important recent novels in Taiwan.

The narrator, Xiao Shao, recollects a series of friends and lovers, as he watches his childhood friend, Ah Yao, succumb to complications from AIDS. The brute fact of Ah Yao's death focuses Shao's simultaneously erudite and erotic reflections magnetically on the core theme of mortality. By turns humorous and despondent, the narrator struggles to come to terms with Ah Yao's risky lifestyle, radical political activism, and eventual death; the fragility of romantic love; the awesome power of eros; the solace of writing; the cold ennui of a younger generation enthralled only by video games; and life on the edge of mainstream Taiwanese society. His feverish journey through forests of metaphor and allusion -- from Fellini and Lévi-Strauss to classical Chinese poetry -- serves as a litany protecting him from the ravages of time and finitude.

Impressive in scope and detail, Notes of a Desolate Man employs the motif of its characters' marginalized sexuality to highlight Taiwan's vivid and fragile existence on the periphery of mainland China. Howard Goldblatt and Sylvia Li-chun Lin's masterful translation brings Chu T'ien-wen's lyrical and inventive pastiche of political, poetic, and sexual desire to the English-speaking world.


About Chu T'ien-wen

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Chu T'ien-Wen has published fifteen books -- novels, stories, memoirs, and film scripts -- and has won five major literary prizes. She also received the best script award at both the Venice and Tokyo film festivals. Her most highly acclaimed works are Fin de Siècle Splendorand Notes of a Desolate Man,which was published in Taiwan in 1994.Howard Goldblatt is professor of Chinese literature at the University of Colorado, Boulder, and translator of many books, most recently Mo Yan's Red Sorghumand Silver Cityby Li Rui. He is also the coeditor, with Joseph Lau, of The Columbia Anthology of Modern Chinese Literature.Sylvia Li-chun Lin, who teaches at the University of Colorado, Boulder, writes on modern Chinese literature and culture.
Published June 15, 1999 by Columbia University Press. 184 pages
Genres: Education & Reference, Literature & Fiction, Gay & Lesbian. Fiction

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Xiao, for all his dissatisfied longing, has a lover of seven years, Yongjie, a cinematographer, and Xiao is both detached and worshipful of his partner, knowing ""it was invariably during my happiest moments that I felt the inconstancy of life."" When Yongjie leaves to work in southwest China, Xi...

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The next thing was limit the prints because we felt there wasn’t as big a need for them this time, and last, since this is a follow up of a series of books, we went back to press and reprinted the first book with two brand new covers by Amanda Conner and Dave Johnson, knowing a lot of people ...

Sep 20 2014 | Read Full Review of Notes of a Desolate Man

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