The Traveler under the Ceiling:
In Search of Huang Guojun
In a politically conscious literary climate that is obsessed with questions of cultural identity, gender and class, Huang Guojun is an anomaly. His self-inflicted death in 2003 at the age of thirty-two sent a shock wave to Taiwan’s literary community, causing a great deal of speculation. The fact that he was the son of Huang Chunming, the famed champion of Taiwan’s “Xiangtu wenxue” (nativist literature) in the 1960-70s, has undoubtedly contributed, to no small degree, to the enormous attention his suicide has received. The award-winning yet little known young writer soon became the focus of discussion in the media as well as in the academia. He was most often contrasted with a father who had long been made titanesque by theTaiwanese literary historians. Contrary to the father’s celebrated social satires, his work was considered as individualistic and unintelligible. This father-son comparison was even expanded to a critical discourse that tried to distinguish between two literary generations in terms of what counts as “experience.” My article questions this construction of a literary history in which a society vs. self, grand narrative vs. “little narrative” ( petit récit ) dialectic is clearly discernible. By closely reading the corpus of Huang Guojun’s work, the article presents a profile of a seemingly secluded young man as a self-made public “storyteller,” with the hope toyield some new understanding of this important writer. It is finally an attempt to position this much talked-about but little-understood writer and to assess his literary significance in the context of the recent development Taiwanese fiction.
Keywords: Huang Guojun, the storyteller