The Soul of Jade Mountain

by Husluman Vava

Description

Cultural production, including literary work, has been a key element in the Indigenous struggle for decolonization worldwide. In Taiwan, ethnographic novels written in Chinese, such as The Soul of Jade Mountain (Yushan hun) by Bunun writer Husluman Vava (1958–2007), have been an important tool in the process of bringing the circumstances of Indigenous people to the attention of mainstream audiences.

Before his untimely death, Vava was one of the leaders of the Indigenous cultural revival movement in Taiwan. He was among the first Indigenous authors to make use of long fiction, and he did so quite prolifically. For Vava, as is the case for many Indigenous community leaders, the mission was twofold. He wanted to recover and preserve the rich traditions of his ancestors so that younger generations, in their search for their identity and roots in the modern world, could find quality sources created within their own community. Vava also wanted to make those in the mainstream aware of the true nature and depth of Bunun culture. His many short stories and novels fashion a vivid portrait of the Bunun people, their daily life, their values, and their aspirations. Vava created accessible characters in empathetic situations in order to demonstrate the deeply human qualities of traditional Bunun life and to suggest that those qualities maintain their validity in the modern world.

Vava’s novel The Soul of Jade Mountain won the 2007 Taiwan Literature Award for best novel. This is the first English translation of an ethnographic novel by a Taiwan Indigenous writer to be published by a North American publisher, marking an important step in bringing Indigenous Taiwan to international audiences.

This book is part of the Literature from Taiwan Series, in collaboration with the National Museum of Taiwan Literature and National Taiwan Normal University.



 

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