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White Terror-inspired 'Son of Formosa' wins French literature award

03/01/2024 10:11 PM
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Yu Pei-yun (center), author of the graphic novel "Son of Formosa," receives the "Roman Graphique" award at a ceremony in Paris on Thursday. CNA photo Feb. 29, 2024
Yu Pei-yun (center), author of the graphic novel "Son of Formosa," receives the "Roman Graphique" award at a ceremony in Paris on Thursday. CNA photo Feb. 29, 2024

Taipei, March 1 (CNA) A graphic novel about Taiwan's white-terror era won a literature award in France on Thursday, the Ministry of Culture (MOC) said Friday.

The MOC said the "Son of Formosa" (來自清水的孩子) was awarded the "Roman Graphique" (graphic novel) accolade at the seventh Prix Émile-Guimet de littérature asiatique (Émile Guimet Prize for Asian Literature) at a ceremony in Paris.

The category was newly added this year, giving the Taiwanese novel the additional privilege of winning the first award of its kind.

At the awards ceremony, the novel's author Yu Pei-yun (游珮芸) was joined by Taiwan Cultural Center in Paris Director Hu Ching-fang (胡晴舫), the MOC said.

According to an MOC press release, Yu said in her acceptance speech that the biographical novel was not published because its protagonist, late civil rights activist Tsai Kun-lin (蔡焜霖), was a political victim.

Rather, Yu said the book was released to teach Tsai's resilience after living a difficult life to a younger generation.

Yu told her audience at the ceremony that Taiwan's current generation was born into freedom and is rarely aware of the turmoil the older generation endured during an era governed by martial law.

She added that focusing the story upon an individual was the best way for readers, both foreign and domestic, to learn about Taiwan, the MOC said.

"Son of Formosa" was nominated for the newly founded award alongside "Shuna's Journey," a graphic novel by legendary Japanese animator Hayao Miyazaki, as well as "Moms," written and illustrated by South Korean artist Ma Yeong-Shin.

Yu Pei-yun (with mic, in grey clothes) speaks at a seminar in Paris on Wednesday. Photo courtesy of Centre Culturel de Taïwan à Paris
Yu Pei-yun (with mic, in grey clothes) speaks at a seminar in Paris on Wednesday. Photo courtesy of Centre Culturel de Taïwan à Paris

"Son of Formosa" was first released in 2020 by independent publishing house Slowork Publishing, written by Yu and illustrated by Taiwanese artist Zhou Jian-xin (周見信).

The four-book graphic novel was published in Mandarin, Taiwanese (both phonetically written in Chinese), Japanese and English, as they were the languages and Chinese dialects Tsai, who passed away on Sept. 3, 2023 at the age of 92, spoke.

Since its release, the translation rights to "Son of Formosa" have been sold to Japanese, French, Arabic, German, Korean, Italian and English-language publishers.

(By Wang Pao-er and James Lo)

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