“Banal Apocalypse”

An Interview with Author Ta-wei Chi on the New Translation of The Membranes

in Screen Bodies
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  • 1 Dept. of Gender and Cultural Studies, University of Sydney, Australia jane.park@sydney.edu.au
  • 2 National Chengchi University, Taiwan tw@nccu.edu.tw
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Abstract

This interview is based on a series of email exchanges in November 2019 between Taiwanese writer and scholar Ta-wei Chi and Korean American scholar Jane Chi Hyun Park about Chi's queer speculative novella, The Membranes. The first section provides a summary of the novella, which was recently translated into English by Ari Heinrich. The second section paints a picture in broad brush strokes of the contexts in which Chi wrote The Membranes—taking into consideration key cross-cultural influences and critical reception in Taiwan in the 1990s. It also examines the cultural and political relevance of Chi's creative predictions about the future within the present historical moment. Finally, it explores afterlives for the novella in the form of sequels and possible cinematic adaptations.

Contributor Notes

Jane Chi Hyun Park is a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Gender and Cultural Studies at the University of Sydney. Her research explores the narratives and aesthetics of East Asian and Asian diasporas. She has published work in a wide range of journals including Cultural Studies, World Literature Today, and Inter-Asia Cultural Studies. Her monograph, Yellow Future: Oriental Style in Hollywood Cinema (University of Minnesota Press, 2010), mapped the emergence of East Asian bodies and styles as technologized backdrop in Hollywood films from the 1980s to the early 2000s. Email: jane.park@sydney.edu.au

Ta-wei Chi (Taichung County, Taiwan, 1972) is a writer and scholar working in LGBT and disabled studies in the context of Sinophone societies. With a PhD in comparative literature from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), he is currently Associate Professor of Taiwanese Literature at National Chengchi University (NCCU) in Taipei.

In his early twenties, he published three short story collections, including The Membranes, which has been labeled an example of “queer science fiction.” In 2017, he published a tome on LBGT history in Taiwanese literature from the 1950s to the new millennium. The Japanese and French translations of The Membranes are already available in Japan and France, respectively. Ari Heinrich's English translation of The Membranes is forthcoming in 2021 from Columbia University Press.

Screen Bodies

The Journal of Embodiment, Media Arts, and Technology

  • Chi, Ta-wei. (1996) Forthcoming. The Membranes. Trans. Ari Heinrich. New York: Columbia University Press.

  • Miaojin, Qiu. (1995) 2014. Last Words from Montmartre. Trans. Ari Heinrich. New York: New York Review of Books.

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