Up-and-coming mystery writer He Jing-yao (何敬堯) introduced Taiwan's take on the mystery genre to Japanese readers at forums held in Tokyo on June 29 and 30.
Under the themes "Report on Taiwan's Young Writers" and "Emergence of Taiwanese Folklore Creatures," He shed light on the latest developments of Taiwan literature and the rise of legendary creatures in Taiwanese literary works in recent years.
He also shared that he started writing a mixture of mystery and fantasy stories about Taiwan after reading "The Wicked and the Damned: A Hundred Tales of Karma," a short story collection by Japanese fantasy and mystery writer Natsuhiko Kyogoku (京極夏彥).
To change Taiwanese readers' view about historical fiction, He started collecting materials about all kinds of creatures from Taiwan's folklore records and tried to incorporate Taiwan history with different literary genres.
For example, "Taiwan Folklore Creatures: Fantastic Notes on the Island over 300 Years (妖怪臺灣：三百年島嶼奇幻誌)" is He's notes compiled from the stories he read while doing research on the history of Taiwan.
The book covers documents on monsters, mythical creatures, and unresolved mysteries recorded by western, Han Chinese, Japanese, and indigenous groups from 1624 to 1945 in Taiwan, serving as Taiwan’s first encyclopedia of legendary creatures.
The forums were attended by over 100 people including Japanese author Kyogoku, who expressed his anticipation over He's new book.
Director Chu Wen-ching (朱文清) of the Taiwan Cultural Center in Tokyo noted that monsters such as "Aunt Tigress (虎姑婆)," "Miss Pandanus Tectorius (林投姐)," and "Chair Spirit (椅子姑)" introduced by He reflect the historical background, culture, and religion of different eras in Taiwan.
Organized by the Taiwan Cultural Center in Tokyo, the "Taiwan Publications" forum series aim to help Japanese readers gain a deeper understanding about Taiwan culture by inviting Taiwanese writers to introduce their works in Tokyo.
The next session will feature author Li Kotomi (李琴峰), winner of Japan's 60th Gunzo Award for New Writers, on the topic titled "Crossing the Boundaries of Gender and Language — Introduction to Taiwan's LGBT Literature" on July 6.