Back alleys: the creative journey of Chen Yingzhen
XU Nancun (Translated by Petrus LIU)
Chen Yingzhen was born in Zhunan, Taiwan in 1937. Later he registered his residence in Yingge, Taipei County. The 228 Incident occurred in spring 1947, when he was ten years old. His twin brother had just passed away a year ago, and he was often seen playing by himself, lonely and listless. He remembers that there were five, six Taiwanese men who had served in the Japanese army in the village. They resumed their military march in the small alley with closed doors and windows, wearing tattered, incomplete sets of imperial military uniforms and chanting Japanese military marching songs. Slowly they marched away. Chen remembers a waisheng merchant was beat up and moaning on the ground in front of the Ying town train station. Blood was splattered on his ankles between his long socks and black shoes. He also remembers the adults whispering about the Kuomingtang’s (KMT) twenty-first battalion taking Taipei by storm, their eyes filled with fear and sorrow.
In the summer of 1950, Chen was in sixth grade. During self-study, his head teacher was reading reports on the Korean War in Central Daily News. In autumn, Mr. Wu was taken away by the military authorities on a jeep in the middle of the night. Mr. Wu had fought in the war from Southeast Asia to China. His face was always pale from tuberculosis. In fifth grade, Mr. Wu once slapped him on the face because of a sharecropper’s son. After Mr. Wu was taken away, his grey-haired mother, who was a ceramics worker, was left crying by herself in a dark brick house. In winter, the waisheng Lu brother and sister, who were living in his backyard, were also taken away, one in Ying town and the other at Tainan sugar factory. White terror had arrived.
Chen Yongshan [陳永善] was born in 1937 in Taiwan. Chen Yingzhen [陳映真] is his literary pen name, whereas the pen name Xu Nan-cun [許南村] is used for his review articles. He started writing literary works in 1959, and was incarcerated for seven years since 1968. After his release from prison, he continued writing and involved himself in various leftist social practices. His writings and deeds remain one of the most important resources for leftist thoughts and practices in Taiwan.
Petrus Liu is Associate Professor of Humanities at Yale-NUS College. He is the author of Stateless Subjects: Chinese Martial Arts Literature and Postcolonial History (Cornell University East Asia Series, 2011) and Queer Marxism in Chinas (Duke University Press, forthcoming). He co-edited (with Lisa Rofel) Beyond the Strai(gh)ts: Transnationalism and Queer Chinese Politics, which received the Modern Language Association’s Council of Learned Journals and Editors Prize for Best Journal Special Issue in 2011. His articles have appeared in Social Text, positions: east asia cultures critique, Modern Language Quarterly, and Inter-Asia Cultural Studies.