《紙婚》 陳若曦 著
Paper Marriage by Chen Ruoxi
My current book project is an English translation of Taiwanese author Chen Ruoxi’s 1986 novel Paper Marriage. Written in the first-person voice, Paper Marriage takes the form of a diary written by a heterosexual woman from China who emigrates to the United States and enters into a marriage of convenience with a gay American man. The protagonist, Pingping, is an artist from Shanghai, while the story takes place in Berkeley, Oakland, and San Francisco. While living in the “paper marriage,” Pingping gradually meets other gay men and women, coming to see the great diversity of race, class, nationality, sexual desire, gender expression, and religion among members of the queer community. She also experiences rejection from the Chinese immigrant community, who are appalled at certain aspects of her life in the U.S.
In 1993, filmmaker Ang Lee released a loose cinematic adaptation of the novel titled The Wedding Banquet. Lee’s film is wonderful in its own right, but differs from the novel in significant ways.
Born in 1938, Chen Ruoxi is a Taiwanese writer. She graduated from National Taiwan University and helped found the literary journal Xiandai Wenxue (Modern Literature). Among Anglophone readers, her most famous work is her short story collection, The Execution of Mayor Yin, which was published in English translation in 1978. Other works include The Old Man and Other Stories, The Short Stories of Ruoxi Chen, and Spirit Calling: Five Stories of Taiwan. In the 1960s at the height of the Cultural Revolution, she made the shocking decision to leave Taiwan and move to Mainland China to support the Maoist project, but became disillusioned with this and left in 1973. Today, the eighty-year-old Chen Ruoxi lives on Taiwan.