Tue, Sep 23, 2014 - Page 4 News List

Chu Tien-wen wins literature prize

Staff writer, with CNA

Taiwanese writer Chu Tien-wen (朱天文) has been awarded the fourth Newman Prize for Chinese Literature, becoming the second Taiwanese to win the US award that recognizes outstanding achievements in Chinese prose or poetry.

Chu, a prominent novelist and screenwriter, won the award with her Fin-de-Siecle Splendor, a collection of short stories set in Taipei.

Margaret Hillenbrand, an associate professor at the University of Oxford who nominated Chu for the award, described the 58-year-old writer as a “superb practitioner of short fiction.”

“Chu Tien-wen is a multi-faceted cultural figure, a novelist, screenwriter and essayist who excels at each of those different forms,” Hillenbrand wrote in a statement on the award’s Web site.

“Texture, fragrance, color and taste leap out from her uncommonly crafted prose with such force that they suck the reader into the text in ways not usually associated with the short-story form — a genre which is supposedly too fleeting to be immersive,” Hillenbrand wrote.

The other nominees were Yan Lianke (閻連科), Yu Hua (余華) and Ge Fei (格非) from China and Chang Kui-hsing (張貴興) from Malaysia.

Peter Hays Gries, director of the University of Oklahoma’s Institute for US-China Issues, which organizes the award, said Chu emerged as the winner after four rounds of positive elimination voting.

Born in 1956 to writer parents, Chu has demonstrated her talent in writing since her school days. She published her first novel at the age of 16 and cofounded a literary group during her college years.

She is also known for her long-time collaboration with Taiwanese director Hou Hsiao-hsien (侯孝賢), having written and adapted many of the screenplays for Hou’s films, including A City of Sadness (悲情城市), which won a Golden Lion at the 1989 Venice Film Festival.

A jury of five literary experts selected Chu as the 2015 Newman Prize winner on Wednesday last week, according to the organizer.

The Newman Prize has been awarded every two years by the institute since 2009.

Past recipients include Chinese novelist and Nobel literature laureate Mo Yan (莫言, 2009), Chinese novelist Han Shaogong (韓少功, 2011) and Taiwanese poet Yang Mu (楊牧, 2013).

Winners receive a plaque and US$10,000.

An award ceremony is to be held at the University of Oklahoma in March next year.

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