Island of Silence
by Su Wei-chen
translated by Jeremy Tiang
• Winner of the China Times Million Yuan Literary Prize for the Novel (Jury Prize, 1994)
Island of Silence is a mesmerising psychological portrait of evasion. Chen-mian, a young Taiwanese woman with a troubled background, can’t bear the reality of her life, and creates an idealised fantasy existence – ‘the other Chen-mian’, a happily-married woman with a stable, loving family. Chen-mian is obsessed with islands, finding them safer and more contained than larger pieces of land. She travels to Hong Kong, Bali and Singapore, trying to find a secure hiding place. The lives of the two Chen-mians become more surreal and intertwined, and it becomes difficult to tell where reality ends and fantasy begins.
Originally published as 沈默之島 by China Times Publishing Co. (時報出版), Taiwan, Nov 1994, this is the first English edition of Island of Silence.
About the Author and Translator
Su Wei-chen has served as editor-in-chief of the Weekly Reader News, and is now a professor of Chinese literature at National Cheng Kung University. She is the author of more than a dozen volumes of fiction and nonfiction, including the novels 紅顏已老 [The Faded Years of Youth] (1981), 舊愛 [Old Love] (1985), 離家出走 [Flying from Home] (1987), 離開同方 [To Leave the Village Tong-Fang] (1990), 魔術時刻 [The Magic Hours] (2002), and 時光隊伍 [The Procession in Time] (2006), as well as of the critical and essay volumes 單人旅行 [The Journey of Solitude] (1999) and 租書店的女兒 [The Memories of Books] (2010). Her academic publications are 張愛玲香港時期小說研究 [Eileen Chang's Hong Kong Period Novels] (2002) and 台灣張派作家世代論 [The Influence of Eileen Chang and Her Followers in Taiwan] (2006). She is the recipient of the United Daily News Prize for the Novelette and the Tainan Prefectural City Prize for Literary Contribution. Professor Su is currently a writer-in-residence at Nanyang Technological University.
Jeremy Tiang has translated Zhang Yueran’s The Promise Bird andTen Loves, Yeng Pway Ngon’s Unrest, (Math Paper Press) and Wong Yoon Wah’s Durians Are Not The Only Fruit (Epigram). His translation of Han Lao Da’s Floathouse 1001 and Quah Sy Ren’s Dragon Bone will be performed at the Arts House in 2014, and his adaptation of A Dream of Red Pavilions will be staged off-Broadway by Pan Asian Repertory Theater. He is the current recipient of a PEN/ Heim translation grant. Jeremy’s own short fiction has appeared in Esquire, Meanjin, the Istanbul Review, QLRS, and Best New Singaporean Short Stories.
"Su Wei-chen's Island of Silence is a provocative, perplexing exploration of the formation of one woman's selfhood…. In the same way that (the protagonist) Chen-mian uses fantasy to search for meaning in her own life, so too does Su Wei-chen offer up this novel as a fantasy-soaked island rife with the potential for meaning-making.”
- Arielle Stambler, Cha, Asian Literary Journal
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Dimension: 130mm x 200mm