The winners of the 2014 Taipei International Book Exhibition Prize (TIBE Prize) were announced on Jan. 7, with each writer receiving a trophy and a cash prize of NT$100,000 (US$3,322) in recognition of outstanding literary achievements.
Wang Ting-kuo (王定國), 58, was one of the three winners in the fiction category. He grabbed the prize for "Na Me Re, Na Me Leng" (literally "so hot, so cold"), a short stories collection depicting the loneliness of men and women.
"I have gotten a lot from this. For example, I discovered for the first time that someone is reading my books and taking note of every word I write," said Wang, the chairman of a local construction company.
He said he wrote the winning work, his first major publication in 25 years, to illustrate the difficulties in human relationships.
Although his primary profession deals with construction, Wang's true passion lies in literature. He has been writing since the age of 17, and has picked up several awards along the way. He views literature as something that offers a special kind of happiness that no numbers could ever give.
"I usually write late at night because in the daytime, my mind is occupied with numbers, steel bars, and cement," he said, explaining that he goes about business with the sensitivity of a novelist.
"You can't be too careless and must pay attention to details," said Wang, who attributed his ability to weather difficult times in the real estate industry to his careful demeanor.
One of the other winners in the fiction category is Lin Yi-yun (林宜澐), who said he was inspired to write his winning novel "Hai Xiao" (literally "tsunami") because he grew up in the eastern Taiwanese county of Hualien, where frequent earthquakes spark real fears of tsunamis.
Lin’s novel centers on rumors of a tsunami after a huge earthquake strikes the county and examines society through the lenses of people's reactions to the news.
The other winners include U.S.-based Chinese writer Cao Guanlong (曹冠龍) in the fiction category, while non-fiction awards were given to Taiwan's independent authors Chen Lie (陳列) and Liu Shao-hua (劉紹華), and the co-writing trio of Chen Tsui-lien (陳翠蓮), Wu Nai-the (吳乃德), and Hu Hui-ling (胡慧玲).
The winners were selected out of 125 submissions in the fiction category and 371 submissions in the non-fiction category.
The Taipei International Book Exhibition Prize is given out by the Taipei Book Fair Foundation each year to highlight the achievements of original works by Chinese-language writers.