Taiwan-American author wins prestigious US book award

Taiwan-American author Shawna Yang Ryan named winner of 38th American Book Award for novel 'Green Island'


Taiwan-American author Shawna Yang Ryan poses with English and Mandarin editions of her novel “Green Island.” (Shawna Yang Ryan’s Facebook page)

Taiwan-American author Shawna Yang Ryan was named Aug. 4 one of the winners of the 38th American Book Awards for her 2016 novel “Green Island.”
The American Book Awards, established in 1978, recognize outstanding achievements in U.S. literature. A ceremony to honor this year’s winners is scheduled to be held Oct. 22 in San Francisco, according to organizer the Before Columbus Foundation.
In a post on her Facebook page Aug. 10, Ryan thanked all of her readers and expressed her excitement at winning the award. “Green Island,” her second novel, was released in February 2016, with its Mandarin translation hitting Taiwan shelves last November.
The book opens on the eve of the February 28 Incident of 1947 and spans six decades across two continents, telling the tale of a Taiwan family and the nation’s journey toward democracy. “‘Green Island’ is a story of love, betrayal, and family, set against the backdrop of a changing Taiwan in the twentieth century,” Ryan wrote on her official website.
The 228 Incident occurred when protesters demanded Gov. Chen Yi institute reforms. When these demands went unmet, people throughout the island rioted against the government. Military reinforcements dispatched from mainland China killed many while restoring order.
Her novel received high praise from U.S. newspapers such as the Los Angeles Times, The Seattle Times and The Washington Times, with the Richmond Times-Dispatch, a daily broadsheet based in Virginia, describing the novel as “moving and suspenseful” and “full of compassion.”
Currently based in Honolulu, Hawaii, Ryan teaches creative writing at the University of Hawaii at Manoa. A Fulbright scholar, she is also the author of 2009’s “Water Ghosts,” which centers on three Chinese women in a small farming town on the Sacramento River in Northern California in the 1920s.
The California-based BCF, founded in 1976, is a nonprofit educational organization dedicated to promoting contemporary American multicultural literature. American Book Awards winners are selected by a panel of writers, editors and publishers.