April 01 , 2008



“‘Half century under Japan then half century under Kuomintang . . .too much,’ my mother would sigh and shake her head.”

Miah means “fate” in Taiwanese. Spanning much of the twentieth century, these linked, subtly understated stories trace the destinies of simple folk from the brutal Japanese occupation of the early twentieth century through to the “White Terror” of the exiled Chinese Mainlanders and the Kuomintang, and finally to modern Taiwan and Canada.

In the powerfully gripping “Miah,” a woman from Vancouver accompanies her mother to Taiwan for her grandmother Ah Mah’s funeral. There she discovers the tragic story of Fifth Uncle, who was hounded by Kuomintang forces until he took pesticides and died . . . In “The Colonel and Mrs Wang” a Mainlander officer and his Taiwanese-raised son confront each other over politics. One day, the son is betrayed to the authorities. Who was the anonymous informer? . . . In the touching story “Lysander,” a modern day Taiwanese boy is sent to Vancouver for his education. A diamond cannot be polished without friction, he has been taught.  He must bear the hardship in an alien teenage culture where he tries to desperately cope and eventually loses himself.

Miah is a rare look at Taiwanese and modern Canadian life, historical, and personal, and completely honest.

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Choice collection reflects the poet's mastery of a rich variety of poetic forms and meters. Included is one of his best narrative poems, "The Courtship of Miles Standish," along with such famous works as "The Village Blacksmith," "The Wreck of the Hesperus," and "Paul Revere's Ride." Alphabetical lists of titles and first lines.

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