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Taiwanese author Kevin Chen's novel 'Ghost Town' receives acclaim in the US

  • Date:2022-11-04

German-based Taiwanese author Kevin Chen (陳思宏) recently visited the US to give four author talks in New York and Washington, D.C., to discuss his best-selling novel "Ghost Town (鬼地方)," which was published in hardcover in North America last month. It was the first time that he shared his creative process with American readers in person. The talks were well-received by participants and Chen will return to New York for an additional session on Nov. 4. The one-hour lecture will be held at Stavros Niarchos Foundation Library and conducted in Mandarin.

During the first session on Oct. 24, Chen talked about his source of inspiration as well as introduced the custom and taboos of the Ghost Festival in Taiwan, while sharing his observations on different depictions of ghosts in Eastern and Western cultures, leading readers to think about what "ghost" and so-called "ghost town" is.

"Ghost Town" is one of Chen's representative works. Inspired by his own childhood experience, the story follows a small town in Taiwan's countryside and a family haunted by its own ghosts. As the story evolves, readers come closer to the crux of the family’s dysfunction and piece together why the novel is called "ghost town." It has won multiple literary awards after its release in Taiwan in 2019, and it has already been translated into English, Korean, Vietnamese, Italian, and other languages. The English version, translated by Darryl Sterk, was first published by Europa Editions in the UK this August and it has been well-received by the public. In September, the novel was selected by New York Times as one of the top reads for this Fall.

Born in Changhua in 1976, Chen graduated from the Department of English Language and Literature at the Fu Jen Catholic University, and later earned a master's degree from the Department of Drama and Theatre at the National Taiwan University. Previously, he worked as a journalist, interpreter, and actor. After moving to Berlin, Germany, he published poetry collections such as "Rebellious Berlin (叛逆柏林)" and novels including "Die guten Menschen von oben (樓上的好人)" and more.