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Taiwan's great novelist Lee Chiao spied on by KMT for 14 years

Lee considered to be Taiwan's greatest writer of modern era and most deserving of Nobel Prize in Literature

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Lee Chiao speaks at an editorial meeting for the forthcoming "Complete Works of Lee Chiao," accompanied by Taiwan Lee Ch...

Lee Chiao speaks at an editorial meeting for the forthcoming "Complete Works of Lee Chiao," accompanied by Taiwan Lee Ch...

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — The Taiwan Lee Chiao Literature Association (臺灣李喬文學協會) recently celebrated its fourth founding anniversary and is now behind an initiative pushing for the writer to receive a nomination for the Nobel Prize in Literature.

Lee Chiao (李喬) is widely considered to be one of the country's great contemporary novelists, with some of his best novels translated into and published in English, Spanish, Japanese, and Czech.

The 88-year-old Taiwanese writer has published 16 short novels, 11 long novels, and seven dissertations. His realistic long novels mostly followed after retiring as a junior high school teacher and have been hailed for the clever implementation of a stream of consciousness narrative.

Lee wrote about the struggles of the underprivileged and his political fiction unveiled a dark side to politics, such as the work "Informants." Not surprisingly, his works made the people in power uncomfortable.

Lee was on the Kuomintang's (KMT) surveillance list for intellectuals, during the "White Terror" period of martial law. Decades later, in 2019, the Transitional Justice Commission (TJC) revealed that Lee had been spied on for up to 14 years and been tarred by accusations that his speeches and works were subversive.

Despite the accusations, his fame in Taiwanese literature prevailed. His historical novels included the "Cold Night Trilogy" (寒夜三部曲) of "Wintry Night" (寒夜), "Abandoned Village" (荒村), and "Sole Lamp" (孤燈), which were later printed in English. One of his most celebrated works, "The Spring of Lan Caixia" (藍彩霞的春天), was on the shelves at several bookstores in Spain and Japan, in their localized languages section.

Taiwan Lee Chiao Literature Association Chairman, Dr. Chen Kuei-hsien (陳貴賢), who also heads the Institute of Atomic and Molecular Sciences of Academia Sinica, recently told Taiwan News the organization is collating Lee's masterpieces into the "Complete Works of Lee Chiao" (李喬全集), with the support of the Cabinet-level Hakka Affairs Council, to preserve his legacy for future generations.

National Taiwan University professor Huang Mei-er (黃美娥) serves as editor-in-chief for the massive work. The all-academic team gathered on Aug. 28 for an editorial meeting, when they were joined by Lee himself, at the newly-launched San-Chuen-Shuei Literature Foundation (山泉水文學基地) in Miaoli County, and by Satoshi Aketagawa (明田川聡士) from Japan's Dokkyo University, who attended remotely.

Taiwan's great novelist Lee Chiao spied on by KMT for 14 years
An editorial meeting for the "Collected Works of Lee Chiao" was convened on Aug. 28. (Chen Keui-hsien photo)

The meeting was led by Chen Kuei-hsien and also attended by (pictured above) NTHU Professor Chen Welin (陳惠齡), NDHU Professor Yang Tsui (楊翠), NUU Professor Lee Su-ting (李舒亭), NKNU Professor Tan Yu-li (唐毓麗), TLCLA Dr. Liu Hui-chen (劉慧真), NUU Professor Huang Hui-chen (黃惠禎), NYCU Professor Chiang Shu-chen (蔣淑貞), and Professor Satoshi Aketagawa (明田川聡士) from Japan's Dokkyo University.

Chen lauded Lee as one of the nation's most productive writers, whose works include novels, prose, poetry, plays, commentary, and essays — a total of more than 12 million words. The "Complete Works of Lee Chiao" will be divided into six sections and 45 volumes, and is expected to be completed in two years.

In Taiwan, Lee is widely accepted as the most deserving writer of a Nobel Prize in literature. The pro-independence master dedicated his life to promoting democracy and education reform.

Taiwan's great novelist Lee Chiao spied on by KMT for 14 years
Lee Chiao (third from right, front row) with editors of the forthcoming "Complete Works of Lee Chiao." (Chen Keui-hsien photo)

More information about the San-Chuen-Shuei Literature Foundation can be found at https://sites.google.com/view/leechiao


Updated : 2021-11-28 14:53 GMT+08:00