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Taiwan Literature Awards for Books honors Kevin Chen

The author of 'Ghost Town' takes NT$1 million first prize, 10 additional authors also receive awards

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Winners of 2020 Taiwan Literature Awards for Books. (National Museum of Taiwan Literature photo)

Winners of 2020 Taiwan Literature Awards for Books. (National Museum of Taiwan Literature photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — The 2020 Taiwan Literature Awards for Books (台灣文學金典獎) ceremony took place at the Hilton Taipei Sinban on Saturday (Nov. 14), awarding the NT$1 million (US$33,000) grand prize and other prizes to a wide spectrum of writers.

Nine authors won prizes this year. In addition to the grand prize, seven other runner-up prizes of NT$150,000 were awarded, while accolades were handed to three first-time authors in the form of the Flower Bud Prize.

The grand prize went to Kevin Chen (陳思宏), and the seven runners-up were Lin Hsin-hui (林新惠), Chen Chang-yuan (陳昌遠), Jason Guo (郭強生), Huang Chun-ming (黃春明), Liao Mi (廖瞇), Liu Chen-chun (劉宸君), and Su Chih-heng (蘇致亨).

The Flower Bud Prize went to Tsai Shian-zen (蔡翔任), while Lin Hsin-hui and Chen Chang-yuan both won secondary awards in this category.

Kevin Chen said that his winning novel, "Ghost Town," (鬼地方) is about his hometown of Yongjing Township in Changhua County. At first, he said he was worried that writing about local affairs would not generate enough connections with the wider world.

However, he later learned from readers that their hometowns had similar characters and scenes, which made him conclude that ghost towns are universal.

“Taiwan is my biggest writing asset. The island gives me absolute freedom to write, and I will always cherish it,” Chen said.

Chen was the ninth child in a traditional farming family. As a child, he often wrote poems and novels in his textbooks. As a gay man, he struggled with his identity in a small town, eventually running away.

"Ghost Town" is about homecoming and revisiting the country during its authoritarian era. He hopes the next generation won't face the same struggles for freedom and sexuality.

Taiwan Literature Awards for Books honors Kevin Chen
Kevin Chen is winner of the 2020 Taiwan Literature Awards for Books grand prize. (National Museum of Taiwan Literature photo)