Liao Chihyun, Editor-in-chief, Kiwi Fruit Studio
Jinmen native Wu Junyao’s “Partake of this Offering” begins with a food experiment. The author is traveling with a “gourmet club,” sampling Jinmen’s culinary delights, all the while yearning for the places he knew as a child growing up on the island. Once a “local” now a “tourist,” the writer compares “the homeland of memory” with the “greatly altered” Jinmen of the twenty-first century. More than simply documenting changes in the writer’s own life, the essay is testimony to Jinmen’s transformation from battlefront to tourist destination.
Jinmen (Quemoy) is located in the Taiwan Strait, between Taiwan and the China mainland (Jinmen is in fact geographically closer to China, lying only a few kilometers offshore from the southern Chinese province of Fujian). In addition to the main island of Jinmen, the area includes Little Jinmen, Dadan, Erdan, Dongding, and Beiding, twelve islands in all, covering an area of approximately 150 square kilometers. The site of major engagements between Communist and Nationalist forces in the Chinese Civil War, Jinmen is a strategic R.O.C. military bastion, Taiwan’s first line of defense.
To Jinmen native Wu Junyao, nothing brings back childhood memories like foods and the neighborhood where he grew up. But for Wu, who left Jinmen at age twelve, coming home was like entering a different world. Foods Wu recalled were traditional offerings such as Chinese vermicelli stew and oyster omelets, not modern society’s “gourmet treats” – he couldn’t even stomach the offerings at Jinmen’s famous Kow Kun Beef Store. Furthermore, in his youth he’d played in pebble-strewn peanut field, now the site of a distillery producing sorghum whiskey, a fiery alcoholic beverage synonymous with the island of Jinmen. Wu’s grandparent’s graves lie beside the new-built distillery, placing the writer’s memories of his forebears in a distinctly different context.
Jinmen’s landscape and cultural environment changed dramatically in Wu’s time away from the island – the writer’s memory of the place and modern Jinmen, in the mutual interweaving of time, space, and emotions, are as different as an ordinary, tranquil day and a boisterous holiday.
Wu writes: “My yearning for home had been pulled from the past into the present, my homesickness turned into a factual survey. Travel leads me to new places, where I hear of true things that have happened in the lands that I visit, things I’ve seldom heard before.” It’s interesting – there aren’t many places a child under twelve years of age can go; now, as an adult on a “foodie tour,” Wu Junyao is being reintroduced to Jinmen’s “bigness” by a Taiwanese tour-guide. Nevertheless, in the author’s (or the Jinmen people’s) heart, the homeland of memory and the Jinmen of today are necessarily different from the Jinmen outsiders see. Perhaps this is what Wu wants to show in “Partake of This Offering”: The battlefront and the tourist destination are both interpretations of “Jinmen” in specific eras. But regardless of how the cultural landscape changes, Jinmen will always be home to Wu Juanyao.
Liao Chihyun, Editor-in-chief, Kiwi Fruit Studio
A native of Jinmen, Wu Junyao (1967- ) came to Taiwan when he was twelve years old, eventually earning a master’s degree at Soochow University’s Department of Chinese Literature. A poet, essayist, and fiction writer, Wu has served as scriptwriter for Taiwan Television’s (TTV) “Night of the Rose,” chief editor at Huan Xi Culture Publishing Company, chief editor at Ling Jiou Mountain Prajna Cultural and Educational Foundation, and editor-in-chief at China Times Weekly. He currently acts as editor-in-chief at Youth Literary magazine. In 1994 his short story “Shadow Man” won the Unitas Award for New Novelists and the Central Daily News Literature Award. His essays have received the Central Daily News Labor Essay Award, the Liang Shih-ch’iu Literary Award, and the R.O.C. Ministry of Education Literature Award. His works have been featured in numerous literary collections, and he has twice received the May Fourth Literary Arts Medal.
The majority of Wu Junyao’s recent works deal with his native Jinmen. A Scorched Century: Jinmen Historians Speak (2010) won the Golden Tripod Literary Creativity Award (fiction category) and was named one of “Ten Excellent Works” in the 2011 Taipei International Book Exhibition’s fiction category. People are the starting point of a related work, Spirits Left Behind (2013), a novel that explores the Jinmen experience through the tale of the Wind Lion God, a spirit said to ward off evil and bring good fortune. In the series “Jinmen Historical Fiction” – Towering (2006), Lofty Clouds (2007), and Treading on Frost (2008) – Wu tells the stories of Jinmen towns and villages, relating the social changes the area has undergone. In Hot Map, a moving 2014 essay collection, the writer depicts Jinmen landscapes, customs, and conditions, basing his portrayals of humans’ interactions with one another and the land on personal experience.
In addition to essays and fiction, Wu Junyao has authored an illustrated work, Three Tree Friends (2010) and a monograph, Parting the Clouds: The Development of Modern Literature in Jinmen (2010).
|Work(English)：||Partake of This Offering|
|Author：||Wu Junyao (Wu Jun-yao)|
|Publisher：||Taipei: Chiu Ko Publishing Co. Ltd.|
|Ordering information for original work(Link)：||http://www.books.com.tw/products/0010623070|
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|