Graphic novels take top prizes at Taipei book fair awards

Taipei,  Two graphic novels about a man in a psychiatric hospital and the daily lives of nine women in Taipei won top prizes at the 2021 Taipei International Book Exhibition (TIBE) Book Prize on Tuesday, the first time graphic novels have won in the fiction and non-fiction categories.

The graphic novel “A Trip to Asylum” by Pam Pam Liu is set in the 1990s, and follows a man as he is admitted to and eventually released from a psychiatric hospital.

At the awards ceremony, Liu said the story is one she thought about for more than 10 years and was inspired by news and books she read, as well as her own childhood.

“Because I am writing about things that happened when I was a child, I wanted to use the perspective I had back then to supplement the narrative of the book,” she said, referring to her choice of having some chapters in the book narrated by the man’s young niece.

Other winners in the fiction category were “Hsun Chin Che” (尋琴者) by Kuo Chiang-sheng (郭強生), about a piano tuner who meets the widower of a deceased pianist, and “Hsiu Chin, Che Ke Ai Hsiao Te Nu Hai” (秀琴,這個愛笑的女孩), written by renowned Taiwanese writer Huang Chun-ming (黃春明).

Meanwhile, “For the Time Being,” which is Taiwanese artist Chen Pei-hsiu’s (陳沛珛) first graphic novel, was one of three winners in the non-fiction category.

The book is the first graphic novel to win the non-fiction prize.

Chen said it is about the ordinary lives of nine women who live in Taipei, focuses on “trivial details,” and she was surprised that so many people enjoyed it.

Another winner in the non-fiction category was “Darkness Under the Sun” by Hong Kong writer Hon Lai-chu (韓麗珠), which details the author’s reflections about mass protests in the territory in 2019, a subject Hon said took up most of her energy and focus that year.

In a pre-recorded message, Hon thanked Taiwan’s publishing industry, which she described as a place that still has freedom and welcomes literature from many different places.

She also gave thanks to the role that writing and literature has played in her life. “Even if I encounter setbacks, cruelty, or even disaster, as long as I can write them down, they have meaning.”

The final winner in the non-fiction category was “Kuei Tui Mo” (鬼推磨) by Su Xiaokang (蘇曉康), which analyzes changes in China’s economy and politics over the past 30 years.

Su, a Chinese writer who participated in the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests and now lives in exile in the United States, said in a pre-recorded acceptance speech that Taiwan is his “literary homeland”.

Su said he has published many books in Taiwan over the past 30 years, and is honored to have so many Taiwanese readers.

“Taiwan has been able to maintain the freedom of the Chinese word, because of the precondition that it is autonomous and independent,” he said, contrasting the freedom of speech and press enjoyed in Taiwan to that in China.

In the children and young adult category, the winners were picture book “Kingfisher” by Chiu Cheng-tsung (邱承宗), about the Kingfisher bird, and “Home” by Lin Lian-an (林廉恩), a series of images made from pieces of wrapping paper, advertisements and other waste paper that represent people’s imagination of home.

The first two books in the “Son of Formosa” series, by Yu Pei-yun (游珮芸) and Chou Chien-hsin (周見信), were also winners in this category.

The books detail the true story of Tsai Kun-lin (蔡焜霖) from growing up under Japanese rule in Taiwan, to being jailed during the White Terror period and working as a publisher in later life.

The TIBE Book Prize also honored the journalist Sherry Lee (李雪莉) for her work as editor of “Fiery Tides: The Hong Kong Anti-Extradition Movement and Its Impacts,” a collection of essays and reports about the titular protests.

There were 718 submissions to the 2021 TIBE Book Prize, which was a record, said Chen Ying-fang (陳瑩芳), head of the Department of Humanities and Publications under the Ministry of Culture, at the awards ceremony.

The range in types of books and the topics addressed in works submitted has grown over the years, which reflects Taiwan’s freedom of speech and the inclusiveness of our society, Chen said.

Also presented on Tuesday were the 2021 Golden Butterfly Awards, Taiwan’s most prestigious book design competition.

The gold award went to Hsia Yu (夏宇) and Hong Yi-chi (洪伊奇) for the poetry collection “Chi Chui Chih Chou” (脊椎之軸), while silver went to Kuo Yi-chiao (郭一樵) for the paper art collection “Paper Fields.”

Bronze went to Chen Kuan-ju’s (陳冠儒) “Passing Travelers of Time and Space,” a book of artworks inspired by the 24 Chinese solar terms.

 

Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel

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