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Taiwanese writer wins Newman Prize for Chinese Literature

Taiwanese writer wins Newman Prize for Chinese Literature

Taipei, Sept. 20 (CNA) Taiwanese writer Chu Tien-wen has been awarded the fourth Newman Prize for Chinese Literature, becoming the second Taiwanese writer to win the American award that recognizes outstanding achievements in Chinese prose or poetry. Chu, a prominent Taiwanese novelist and screenwriter, won the award with her "Fin-de-Siecle Splendor," a collection of short stories set in Taipei. Margaret Hillenbrand, an associate professor at the University of Oxford who nominated Chu for the award, described the 58-year-old writer as a "superb practitioner of short fiction." "Chu Tien-wen is a multi-faceted cultural figure, a novelist, screenwriter, and essayist who excels at each of those different forms," Hillenbrand wrote in a statement on the award's website. "Texture, fragrance, color, and taste leap out from her uncommonly crafted prose with such force that they suck the reader into the text in ways not usually associated with the short-story form -- a genre which is supposedly too fleeting to be immersive," she wrote. The other nominees are Yan Lianke, Yu Hua and Ge Fei from China and Chang Kui-hsing from Malaysia. Peter Hays Gries, director of the University of Oklahoma's Institute for U.S.-China Issues, which organizes the award, said Chu emerged as the winner after four rounds of positive elimination voting. Born 1956 in Taiwan to writer parents, Chu has demonstrated her talent in writing since her school days. She published her first novel at the age of 16 and co-founded a literary group during her college years. Among her most highly acclaimed works are the 1990 short story collection "Fin-de-Siecle Splendor" and her 1994 novel "Notes of a Desolate Man." She is also known for her long-time collaboration with Taiwanese director Hou Hsiao-hsien, having written and adapted many of the screenplays for Hou's films, including "A City of Sadness," which won a Golden Lion at the 1989 Venice Film Festival. A jury of five literary experts selected Chu as the 2015 Newman Prize winner Sept. 17, according to the organizer. The Newman Prize for Chinese Literature has been awarded biennially by the Institute for U.S.-China Issues since 2009. It recognizes Chinese prose or poetry that "best captures the human condition," according to the award's website. Past recipients include Chinese novelist and Nobel literature laureate Mo Yan (2009), Chinese novelist Han Shaogong (2011) and Taiwanese poet Yang Mu (2013). Winners receive a commemorative plaque and award money of US$10,000. An award ceremony will be held at the University of Oklahoma in March next year. (By Christie Chen)