Yan Na, Ph.D. candidate , Department of Chinese Literature, National Tsing Hua University
Aiya’s 2012 essay “Looking Back on Fu Zhou – Dedicated to the Former Fu Lian First and Second Villages” is a reminiscence of both her life as an adolescent in 1958, and the community of Fu Zhou, which she left some fifty years ago. Located in the Banqiao district of New Taipei City, Fu Zhou is an island formed by sediment deposits at the confluence of the Dahan River and its tributary, the Nanzai drainage canal. The area was successively inhabited by three waves of immigrants – the first wave was composed of waishengren who relocated to Taiwan in 1949, the second wave was made up of migrants from southern Taiwan who came north seeking work in the 1960s, and the third wave consisted of foreign spouses and laborers from Southeast Asia who arrived later. Owing to its unusual geography and diverse population, Fu Zhou is unique in the greater Taipei area.
In the essay’s subtitle Aiya refers to First and Second Fu Lian Villages in the past tense – decades have passed and the military dependents’ villages are now but a memory. Gone too are “Taipei County,” “Banqiao Town,” and “Fu Zhou Neighborhood,” former administrative units now subsumed into larger bodies. Even the ruins of the dependents’ villages have vanished. The house where the writer once lived exists only in her memory. What, then, is she looking back on?
As her memoir begins Aiya hints at Fu Zhou’s special significance for her – her family, which had always had trouble making ends meet, suddenly acquired a house of their own in the area. Although she was born in Sichuan province and lived in Fu Zhou for only five years, the domicile was her family’s first true residence in Taiwan, and so she came to think of it as “home.” Most of the mainlanders who followed the Nationalist government to Taiwan were in the same position as Aiya and her family – war refugees, strangers in a strange land, their dreams of returning home destroyed along with the Nationalist hope of retaking the mainland. Consequently, most mainlander authors recorded their memories of China, not their experiences in Taiwan. Here, however, Aiya finds her source material not in China, but in past and present Fu Zhou. She traces the locale’s history back to its early settlement, first by Taiwan aborigines, then by seventeenth-century Han Chinese immigrants, on through to the post-WWII construction of Fu Lian First and Second Villages. She then recalls her experiences in the dependents’ villages, piecing together from memory various aspects of life in the community – landscape, history, and human relations. Mentioned also are artists and writers of note – Li Xiqi, Zhu Tianwen, Zhu Tianxian and others – who came of age in the villages.
In her five-year residence in the village, Aiya grew from a child to an adolescent, a crucial period in the formation of self-identity. From then on she was “a military dependents’ villager” – “I grew up in a dependents’ village and it’s written all over my face.” Years later others of similar background would often ask her “Are you from a military dependents’ village?” The author looks at the past, but also gazes into the future. On a 2011 visit to Fu Zhou, the area’s urban renewal and marshland reclamation projects elicit her reflections on modernization – for Aiya, an even more beautiful future will emerge from the reconciliation of the struggle between civilization and nature in her former hometown.
Xu Zhenling, PhD student, Department of Chinese Literature, National Chengchi University
Aiya (b. 1945) was born Li Ji in Chongqing, China; her family hails from Songjiang in northeastern China. In 1949, she came to Taiwan with her parents and spent her childhood in Hsinchu. She graduated with a degree in Radio and Television from the National Academy of Arts (now National Taiwan University of Arts) and went on to work as radio announcer and program writer for the Air Force Broadcasting System, event planner for the Taiwan Daily: Children’s Edition, and editor for the journal Unitas. In 1985, she hosted “Aiya Mail,” a program discussing issues faced by teenagers, at the Broadcasting Corporation of China. She also reworked radio scripts into short essay collections For the Young You (1986), For the Mature You (1988), and Sometimes the Stars are Bright (1989). She also hosted the program “The Voice of Literature” for the Police Broadcasting Service. In addition, she has conducted writing classes.
Aiya began writing at an early age, being published in Eastern Youth at the age of ten and going on to win a national writing competition at sixteen. In 1973 she began to write under the name “Aiya,” with her works published successively in the Mandarin Daily News: Home Pages, United Daily News, and Crown Magazine. Later, on the advice of her publisher Yindi, she devoted herself to essay writing.
Aiya excels at writing interesting real-life stories with a clean, natural style. For her collection Fondness, published in 1984, she was judged “a new voice in literature.” Since then she has also won praise for her flash fiction. Other collections include I’m Lonely Too (1983), Once (1985), Aiya’s Flash Fiction (1987), Aiya’s Flash Fiction 2 (1997), and I Met a Woman (2011). Her poetry collections include Letters by Starlight (1984), and she was editor for Streetscapes (1987) and Eighty Years of Selected Short Stories (1991).
Her novel Once was adapted as a serialized drama and broadcast on public television. In recent years, her interests have changed along with other changes in her life. In addition to addressing issues such as the role of women in the family, the problems faced by youngsters, and life in military dependents’ villages, Aiya now also writes about travel, food and drink, and the environment, as can be seen in her latest works Singing Taste Buds (2012) and Silent Fireworks: The Flowers and Trees of My Taiwan (2014).
|Work(English)：||Looking Back on Fuzhou|
|Anthology：||Green-walled Fortress: Fuzhou Island|
|Publisher：||Taipei: Tomorrow Studio Co., Ltd.|
|Ordering information for original work(Link)：||http://www.books.com.tw/products/0010547890|
Ordering information for original work(Note)：
|The “book.com.tw” Internet Bookstore|
|Ordering information for translation(Link)：|
|Ordering information for translation(Note)：||No English Translation|