Thu, Aug 16, 2018 - Page 4 News List

Novelist, son ‘dumbstruck’ by restoration of old home

By Jonathan Chin  /  Staff writer

A renovated cultural park, where 93-year-old novelist Chung Chao-cheng once resided, is pictured in Taoyuan’s Longtan District on Sunday

Photo: Lee Jung-ping, Taipei Times

The Taoyuan City Government’s restoration of novelist Chung Chao-cheng’s (鍾肇政) former residence has “obliterated the memory” of the family’s home, the novelist’s son Chung Yen-wei (鍾延威) said on Tuesday.

Chung Chao-cheng, 93, widely considered the doyen of Taiwan’s “nativist literature movement” (鄉土文學), penned The Dull Ice Flower (魯冰花), the Turbid Waters Trilogy (濁流三部曲) and the Taiwanese Trilogy (台灣人三部曲), among other classics of Taiwanese literature.

The city’s restoration of the residence, a teachers’ dormitory in Longtan District (龍潭), was meant to commemorate his contribution to Taiwanese literature.

However, Chung Yen-wei wrote a scathing review of the project after he and his father toured the completed site at the city’s invitation.

“As father and I entered the dormitory complex and walked toward our old dorm, we were dumbstruck by the sight that greeted us,” he wrote in a Facebook post that was later deleted, but not before being quoted by the Chinese-language Apple Daily and the United Daily News.

“I felt an almost physical blow to the chest; was this supposed to be the dorm I lived in?” he wrote. “Stealing a glance at my father, I saw he seemed to have fallen prey to a confusion of gigantic proportions.”

When the city and the Ministry of Culture decided to restore the dormitory at the family’s prompting, officials had conducted a detailed survey of the building’s layout, fixtures and furniture, with which he and his father had helped at many points, Chung Yen-wei said, adding that the contractor had apparently ignored all of the family’s input in the restoration work.

The post sparked a series of responses by city officials, as well as a statement of apology and promises to improve from the Hakka Affairs Council.

Chung Yen-wei later that day deleted the post, saying that certain aspects of his remarks were erroneous.

He said that while he originally claimed that the city government approved the project without evaluating the contractor’s work, the project is awaiting final inspection by city officials and no formal decision has been made.

The Chung family thanked Taoyuan Mayor Cheng Wen-tsan (鄭文燦) for leading efforts to recognize Chung Chao-cheng’s literary accomplishments, Chung Yen-wei said, adding that he would continue to provide constructive criticism of the project.

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