Books I Read About Taiwan While In Taiwan

Green Island is novel that follows the life and family of a woman from her birth during the 228 massacre (in 1947), through the following period of martial law that ended in 1987, and almost into the present day. This is the book I recommend most, because of both the gorgeous language and the skillful weave of historical events into an engaging storyline. Seriously – you should read it.

Night Market is a collection of short stories, all with some sort of link (sometimes small) to the ubiquitous night markets of Taiwan. Some stories are straight fiction while others veer into science fiction and fantasy. This is also a book that I definitely recommend for getting a taste of Taiwanese history and modern culture.

The Jade Lady weaves bits of the complicated history of Taiwan, China, and the United States into a modern-day mystery/thriller. It wasn’t my favorite book of the month, but I think that regular readers of these genres might enjoy it more.

The 228 Legacy is less about Taiwan than I imagined, and more about the lives of three generations of Taiwanese American women. (I could have learned this by more closely reading the description before choosing it.) Like The Jade Lady, it was fine, but the first two books were so good that they overshadowed this book for me.

Formosa Betrayed is a movie (based on a book) that follows an FBI-agent who goes to Taiwan during the 1980s to investigate the murder of a Taiwanese American professor. From what I’ve heard, it compresses and rearranges historical events a bit, but it’s a good introduction to the period of martial law in Taiwan, and the USA’s shifting alliances during that time.