Today we're launching our Chinese-language section! Hooray.
Plus: Pigs on Parade.
Hello from Taipei, where it’s pouring. It seems like rainy season has arrived, and the cool weather has been a respite from the scorching temperatures.
Today we are launching the Chinese-language section of Broad and Ample Road, 開闊之路. It’s been a dream of ours to make this newsletter multilingual, and to create a community beyond an English-speaking one. Thanks to a grant from Substack Local, we’ve been able to pay translators and commission new pieces.
If you would like to receive the Chinese language newsletter, go to “My Account” and click on “開闊之路” under the “Email Notifications” section. We would also appreciate it if you helped spread the word! If you have friends or family who would appreciate a weekly newsletter in Chinese, please do share. For the next few weeks, we’ll be rolling out translations of our most-read pieces; today’s is “魯蛇即將遠行” (“These Losers Are Going Places”), Michelle’s piece about moving to Taiwan, which touched a chord with readers when she first published it in May.
We want to use this chance to highlight the vibrant community of translators here in Taiwan. This piece was done by Lisung Hsu (徐麗松), who also translated Michelle’s book. After graduating from National Taiwan University, Lisung spent many years in France before returning to Taiwan. He translates both French and English into Chinese, and can also speak and read Russian. His soulful presence and quirky sense of humor won us over instantly.
Last, a special shout-out to Jonathan Shimony for creating our new logo. Jonathan, artist and colleague at the American University of Paris, repurposed an old Paul Klee painting and made it brighter and warmer. We resisted doing a logo for so long because we’re not really logo people, but getting to work with Jonathan, a dear friend, made it OK!
Will China Invade Taiwan? Should we prepare for guerrilla warfare?
Many of you have written in asking us our thoughts about this NYT article about Taiwan, which basically deems war inevitable. We’ve been working on a longer and more considered piece about this, and hope to share something next week.
Briefly: the response of most Taiwanese people to Chinese aggression has been a shrug and a sigh. For them, the world is waking up to a reality that Taiwan has lived in for decades. Albert grew up with air strikes drills at his elementary school, and saw many of his childhood friends leave because of Chinese missile threats. When we asked our friend Andrew Ryan, a journalist who’s lived in Taiwan for 25 years, if he feels more concerned this time, he also shook his head. “It’s like moving to a place with earthquakes,” he said. “Once you sign on, you move on.” People here are famously blithe.
On the other hand, little things do betray the feeling that our times have changed. A translator friend of ours, who is a little younger than us, said that if the Chinese really did take over, her parents’ generation would have surrendered. Her generation, on the other hand, wants to fight.
Our post about unpacking our library and the mess it unleashed inspired quite a few sympathetic “we’ve been there” emails. Here are two responses that we thought you’d enjoy:
Our dear friend Nomi Stolzenberg sent along this painting by her friend, the great R. B. Kitaj, “Unpacking my Library.”
And we loved this piece by the Chinese linguist and humorist Lin Yutang that Margaret Ng sent in. Like Alberto Manguel, Lin also points to the possibility for funny, unlikely pairings:
I let a volume on philosophy stand side by side with a treatise on natural science, and let a humorous booklet rub shoulders with some perfectly well-meaning moral-uplifters. They just form a motley company, pretending to hold diverse opinions with each other and get involved, in my fancy, in some hot mythological debate for my amusement.
And this paragraph made us laugh out loud:
Only I wish to say that this is merely my personal way, and I am not seeking for other people’s approval, or asking them to follow my example. I am writing this merely because my visitors often shake their heads or heave a long sigh when they see the way I live. As I have not asked them, I do not know whether it is a sigh of disapproval or sigh of admiration…. But I don’t care.
Seen in Taiwan: Yo-Yos and Pigs on Parade
A friend of ours invited us to the Tua-Tiu-Tiann International Festival of Arts, which sought to capture the spirit of the roaring 20s in Taipei. People walked around in historical garb: some wore qipao, others donned three-piece tweed suits and straw hats. Performers—from high school folk singers to Chinese yo-yo jugglers—filled the alleyways.
Our most unexpected spotting, though, was a man taking his two pigs for a stroll: