專訪美籍台裔作家楊小娜 「綠島」要讓人們三句不離台灣

2016.09.07 | 18:13 PM    編譯 │ 破土 New Bloom    報導地點 │ 北美洲    瀏覽次數 │ 3,720 檢舉文章
Photo Credit: Anna Wu Photography / 圖片:Anna Wu Photography
Interviewer/訪問者: Brian Hioe/丘琦欣
Translator/翻譯: William Tsai

On May 6th, New Bloom editor Brian Hioe interviewed Shawna Yang Ryan through Skype. Ryan is most recently the author of Green Island, which depicts Taiwan’s White Terror and authoritarian era. Ryan currently teaches in the Creative Writing program at the University of Hawaii at Manoa.

今年5月6日,《破土》編輯丘琦欣透過Skype訪問了楊小娜。楊小娜最近出版了敘述台灣白色恐怖與威權統治的小說《綠島》。她目前任教於夏威夷大學馬諾阿分校的創意寫作課程。

Brian Hioe: The first question I wanted to ask was, for people who might not know you, can you briefly introduce yourself and your background?

丘琦欣(以下簡稱丘):我想問的第一個問題是,可能還有人沒聽過你,你能不能簡單介紹一下你自己,以及你的出身背景?

Shawna Yang Ryan: Sure. I grew up in California to parents who had met in Taiwan. My mother is from Taiwan and my father is American but his mother is German, and he was actually born in Germany. I grew up in Northern California. I went to UC Berkeley for my undergraduate degree and then to UC Davis for my MA in Creative Writing. I also wrote a book about a Chinese community set in the Sacramento Delta. That was my first book, Water Ghosts. Now I have my second book, which is about Taiwan.

楊小娜(以下簡稱楊):當然。我在加州長大,父母親是在台灣相識的。我的母親來自台灣,父親是美國人,但他的母親是德國人,他其實出生在德國。我在北加州長大,在加州大學柏克萊分校讀大學本科,然後在加大戴維斯分校攻讀創意寫作碩士。我也寫了一本關於沙加緬度三角洲華人社群的書,那是我的第一本作品《水鬼》。如今我寫成了第二本書,是關於台灣的。

BH: Can you talk a bit about the process that led up to the writing of Green Island? There are not a lot of novels in English about Taiwan in the recent past, so what was it that led you up to the topic of Taiwanese history?

丘:能不能談談是甚麼樣的歷程促成了《綠島》的寫作?近年來以台灣為題材的英文小說並不多見,那麼,是因為甚麼促使你探討台灣史這個主題?

SYR: When I finished my undergraduate I had this plan to move to Taiwan for a year and live with my relatives. When I left, my writing professor told me, “You’re going to come back with a book.” And I took that literally; I thought that meant while I was there, I would write so much I would end up writing a book. That’s not what happened.

What happened, though, was that I encountered the 228 Museum at the end of my stay and George Kerr’s book, Formosa Betrayed. I was so shocked by it. Because I didn’t know anything about it. And it was 1999, so I don’t think that there was a lot of dialogue about it.

The story came out of my ignorance and surprise, and I thought, “Wow, why don’t people know about this story. People should know. If people just knew about this story, it might change a lot of their thinking about Taiwan.” I think that started my journey towards understanding Taiwan and its position—I originally went to Taiwan not really knowing anything about its history, just the most basic facts. Then I realized years later that this was what my professor meant by coming back with a novel—that I had that seed planted although it took me awhile to realize it.

楊:我在大學畢業的時候,打算搬到台灣和我的親戚同住一年。在我出發時,我的寫作指導教授跟我說:「你會帶著一本書回來。」我那時從字面上理解,以為他的意思是我在台灣會寫很多東西,最後出成一本書。但結果並非如此。

後來發生的事情是,我在行程結束前參觀二二八紀念館,讀了葛超智的《被出賣的台灣》。我太震驚了,因為我對這些事一無所知,那是1999年,因此我覺得人們對這些事並沒有太多討論。

所以這個故事是從我的無知與驚詫產生的,我想:「哇,為什麼人們都不知道有這件事!人們應該知道的。要是人們知道這個故事的話,對台灣的想法或許會改變很多。」我想,我理解台灣及其境遇的旅程是由此開始的,我一開始去台灣的時候真的不瞭解她的歷史,只知道最基本的資料。多年以後我總算明白,教授說的帶著一本小說回來是甚麼意思──我在心中種下了種籽,即使需要一段時間才能領會。

BH: Would you also say it’s an exploration of identity that led you up to that, in some sense?

丘:你會不會覺得,在某種程度上,引領你走上這段旅程的也有對認同的探索?

SYR: Yeah. I would say that. In college, I had started to think more about my mixed identity, which was something that I was always conscious of, but it was just my identity; I didn’t think much about it beyond that. Then I went to college and it’s Berkeley and the 90s, and it’s all identity politics, so I joined this mixed-race Asian student club. The Hapa Issues Forum. Having those discussions, I started to think more about my identity and more about Taiwan and that probably was what led me to go to Taiwan.

楊:對,我會這麼說。我從大學時代開始對自己的混合認同思考得更多,原先我對這件事一直有著自覺,但那只是我個人的認同,除此之外我並不多想甚麼。然後我上了大學,那是1990年代的柏克萊,談的全是認同政治,於是我加入了Hapa Issues Forum這個亞裔混血學生社團。經過這些討論,我開始對自己的認同、也對台灣思考得更多,可能因而促使我前往台灣。

BH: I’m interested then, in the fact that you started with the 228 Massacre. You mentioned that’s how the book began, that you encountered the 228 Museum. Green Island begins with the 228 Massacre and goes up to the SARS Crisis. I think that’s very unique, because that time period is not written about a lot in English.

People tend to forget, for example, that there were American bases in Taiwan. Or that the dangwai movement was so heavily centered outside of Taiwan in America, in some cases. What was it that led you to focus in on that time period in the setting?

丘:那麼,我覺得你從二二八屠殺開始寫起這件事情很有趣。你剛剛提到這本書寫作的開端,是你參觀了二二八紀念館。《綠島》從二二八屠殺開始,一直寫到SARS危機。我認為這非常獨特,因為這個時間斷限並沒有太多英文作品寫過。

比方說,人們很容易忘記台灣曾經有過美軍基地,或是黨外運動有這麼大一部份都在台灣之外,以美國為重心,這是其中幾個例子。是因為甚麼讓你在設定上聚焦於這段時期?

SYR: Well, I did want to start with the massacre because of my encounter with the museum, and also because I feel that it’s a pivot point. Based on my interviews with people—that [the massacre] is also when they started to think about their identity differently because they were just coming out of Japanese colonialism and had been indoctrinated with this idea of Japaneseness, but knew they weren’t Japanese and then, with the arrival of the KMT, thought, “Okay, the Chinese are coming, maybe we’re Chinese.” Then realizing, “No, we’re not Chinese either, so we must be Taiwanese, right?”

I feel like 228 really made that clear, so I wanted to start with that. I think a lot of it probably came out of the interviews I had, especially with the Taiwanese-Americans that I talked to of that generation, so of course the dangwai movement was something that was prominent in their experiences and what they talked about. Also, those periods just intrigued me as novelistic settings, too.

楊:關於這點,我確實是因為參訪了紀念館而想要從二二八屠殺開始寫,同時也因為我覺得那是一個軸心點。根據我所做的訪談,那場屠殺也是他們開始對自身認同產生不同想法的起點,因為那時他們才剛脫離日本殖民統治,過去被皇民化教育灌輸了日本意識,但心裡明白自己不是日本人;然後國民黨來了,他們覺得:「好吧,中國人來了,或許我們是中國人。」接著卻又體會到:「不對,我們也不是中國人。那我們一定是台灣人,對不對?」

我覺得二二八真的讓這一點明確起來,因此想要以它作為開端。我想,其中大部分應該是從我做過的訪談裡得知的,尤其是我曾經訪談過的那一代台裔美國人,因此黨外運動當然也是他們的重要經驗和話題。再者,我也覺得以這段時期作為小說設定同樣令我著迷。

BH: That makes sense. How did you go about researching that process? You mentioned interviews just now. Interviews with Taiwanese-Americans and people that experienced 228.

丘:那就說得通了。你是怎麼研究這段經歷的?你剛才提過訪談,訪問台裔美國人和那些經歷過二二八的人。

SYR: I talked to some people who were alive and could remember 228. I talked to some people who were related to 228 victims and I talked to some people who maybe had heard about 228 from their parents but were too young to remember, but then had other experiences as overseas students.

楊:我和一些仍然健在,還記得二二八的人談過。我也和一些二二八受難者的家屬談過,還有一些也許從父母口中聽過二二八,但年紀太小記不清楚,後來成為海外留學生又遭遇過其他事情的人。

BH: What would you say that the target audience of Green Island is, then? Is it for Americans, Taiwanese, or Taiwanese-Americans? For example, I noticed there was an appendix of books for further reading at the end of Green Island.

丘:那麼,你會把《綠島》的目標讀者群設定在哪些人?它是為了美國人、台灣人,還是台裔美國人而寫的?比方說,我注意到《綠島》最後有一個附錄,列出延伸閱讀書目。

SYR: Well, I think I was trying for two audiences. One audience was the Taiwanese and Taiwanese-Americans, the generation who remembered it. I wanted the book to feel authentic to them. I wanted them to read it and feel, “Wow, how could she imagine what we experienced?”

And I have gotten some responses like that from people, which is really amazing. One woman wrote to me and she was like, “How old are you? Where did you grow up? How do you know what my life was like?” [Laughs] So that was a really great response. I wanted it to sound and feel authentic.

Then, on the other hand, I wanted to construct the story in a way where people who didn’t know anything about Taiwan could read it and say, “Whoa, I had no idea. I didn’t even know what Taiwan was. And now I know all this about Taiwan and I want to know more.” I was trying to straddle both of those sides.

楊:這個嘛,我想我試著寫給兩群讀者看。其中一群讀者是台灣人和台裔美國人,還記得威權統治時期的一代。我希望這本書對他們來說是真切的。我希望他們讀了之後覺得:「哇,她怎麼有辦法想像得到我們的遭遇?」

我也得到了一些像這樣的回應,太令人驚奇了。有一位女性寫信給我,差不多是這麼說:「你今年幾歲?在哪裡長大?你怎麼知道我的人生是這樣?」(笑)這樣的回應實在太棒了。我希望它聽來、想來都是真切的。

而在另一方面,我想要構思一個故事,讓完全不認識台灣的人讀了會說:「嘩,我真沒想到。我甚至不知道台灣是甚麼。但我現在知道了關於台灣的這一切,還想知道更多。」我努力想要同時兼顧這兩端。

BH: In that sense, then, can we also talk about how the novel relates to Asian-American literature? And diasporic experience? I mean, again, your protagonist is born in Taiwan and relocates to America. We talked a little bit about identity earlier and the differences between different target audiences. So how would you situate Green Island in terms of contemporary Asian-American literature?

丘:那麼,在這層意義上,我們是否也可以談談這部小說和亞裔美國文學的關聯?以及和離散經驗的關聯?我的意思是,你的故事主角又一次是個出生台灣、移居美國的人。我們稍早談了一些認同問題,以及面向不同目標讀者的差異。這樣的話,你在當代亞裔美國文學中會怎麼定位《綠島》?
Cover of Green Island /《綠島》書封
SYR: That’s a hard question. I teach Asian-American lit classes. When I started out writing, or when I was in college, Asian-American lit was Maxine Hong Kingston, Amy Tan, and maybe Chang-Rae Lee. And now when I teach it, there’s so much. I feel it’s very diffuse.

For example, I taught a class on urban Asian-American literature, so we read Ed Lin, who writes a detective series and we read Tao Lin’s Taipei. There’s so much going on. There’s science fiction and other different genres now, which I think is really great.

So how does my book fit into that? Maybe it’s a little bit old school? Because it’s historical and it deals more directly with identity. I think some of the new literature is not about identity so much as there’s a story and the characters happen to be Asian-American. The issues are more submerged.

But I think my book is different, too, because it’s a feminist, domestic novel but also a political thriller—I’m trying to combine the genres. And it’s also—like you said in your review—it’s also the story of Taiwan. It’s about Taiwanese and not so much about Taiwanese-Americans, right? I don’t really talk so much about her daughters, who are born in the US.

And I also see that I’ve tried to write against this dominant narrative of China. Like: What is the Chinese diaspora? People would probably situate Taiwan in that, but I want to also give it its own place that is not within that bubble. I’ve been trying to do that with conferences now, trying to propose panels to think about Taiwan in different ways. Recently I put together a panel about island places, and put Taiwan with that, instead of making it part of some appendage of the Chinese world.

楊:這問題不容易回答。我也教亞裔美國文學課程。我開始寫作的時候,或者說,我讀大學的時候,亞裔美國文學指的是湯婷婷(Maxine Hong Kingston)、譚恩美,或者還有李昌來的作品。到了我現在教課的時候,已經有這麼多作品了。我感覺它無邊無際。

比方說,我開了一門亞裔美國都市文學課程,因此我們讀林景南(Ed Lin)的偵探小說系列,也讀林韜的《台北》。有這麼多作品產生了。現在還有科幻小說及其他不同文類,我認為這非常好。

那麼,我的書可以放在其中哪個位置?或許有些老派?因為它是歷史小說,而且更直接觸及認同問題。我認為有些新近的文學作品,故事情節和認同關聯不大,主角恰好是亞裔美國人。這些課題如今是更被隱沒的。

我也認為我的書是不一樣的,因為它不僅是女性主義的家庭小說,也是政治驚悚故事,我試著結合不同文類。當然,正如你在你的書評裡提到的,它也是個關於台灣的故事。它和台灣人比較相關,和台裔美國人關係不大,對吧?我其實沒有提到太多主角女兒的事,她們是在美國出生的。

我也看見自己試著以書寫抵抗鋪天蓋地的中國敘事。像是:甚麼叫做華人離散?人們或許是在這個過程中落腳於台灣的,但我也想要給予他們一個自己的地位,不被含括在那個泡影裡。我目前一直試著透過學術會議做這件事,試著籌辦會議,以不同方式思考台灣。最近我主辦了一個討論島嶼地帶的會議,將台灣納入其中,而不是讓台灣成為中華世界的某種附屬品。

BH: The next thing I wanted to ask was about the responses in Taiwan. There was a lot of coverage in Chinese language media of Green Island, particularly the review in the New York Times. Can you talk about the responses, both in America and also in Taiwan, from some of the different groups we’ve mentioned, like Americans, Taiwanese, and Taiwanese-Americans?

丘:接下來我想問的是在台灣引發的回應。華文媒體對於《綠島》有很多報導,尤其是關於《紐約時報》的書評。能不能談談在美國、台灣兩地,從我們先前提到的像是美國人、台灣人、台裔美國人之類的不同群體產生的回應?

SYR: When that review first came out, I discovered this Reddit thread about the interview and somebody had gone on there and had been like, “Oh, this is just another Amy Tan wannabe, white-washed Asian woman.” They hadn’t even read the book, right? So there was that. But luckily some people jumped in there and and defended me. It really made me mad; it was very irritating.

I think that’s what the expectation might have been. Readers see the cover, and they see my name, and they see size of the book and they see the description, “This sweeping family epic.” I want to preface: I think that Amy Tan laid a really important foundation and I think that the work she does is really important. But that’s the shadow that’s been cast over every Asian-American female writer, so I think people came to the book thinking it was like that.

Then they read it and they say, “This is really dark.” They’re like, “This was so depressing,” and “I didn’t expect this at all.” And the thing was—I had pulled back on the darkness. I’d thought, “Oh, this is not dark enough.” There was originally much worse. The torture scenes, for example, and my editor told me, “You need to tone it down.” The narrator was much more damaged, so I softened her.

Yet people say, “This is the darkest book I’ve ever read,” so that’s been the response. And from American readers: “I thought Chiang Kai-Shek was the good guy. I thought he was our friend. This just blew away everything I learned in school.” I’ve heard that a lot.

楊:那篇書評一出刊,我就看到Reddit上關於專訪的討論串裡,有人在上面說了這樣的話:「哦,不過又是個想當譚恩美的,被洗白了的亞洲女人。」他們連書都沒讀過,不是嗎?有這樣的回應。幸好,有些人跳下去為我說話。那真把我惹火了,實在令人不悅。

我想,這是預期心理可能會產生的結果。讀者看到封面、看到我的名字,又看到書的大小和「一部宏大的家族史詩」這句介紹。但我要把話說在前頭:我認為譚恩美奠定的基礎十分重要,她寫下的作品也真的很重要,但這是一道陰影,籠罩在每一個亞裔美國女作者頭上,因此我覺得人們看到我的書也以為是那樣。

他們讀過之後又說:「太黑暗了。」或是,「太壓抑了。」「完全出乎我意料之外。」但實情是,我已經收斂了黑暗的部分。我會覺得:「哦,這還不夠黑暗。」本來是要更慘的。像是刑求的場面,我的編輯就跟我說:「你要輕描淡寫一些。」敘事者受到的摧殘更重,因此我把她軟化了。

但人們還是說:「這是我讀過最黑暗的一本書。」這也就是回應了。美國讀者則是說:「我以為蔣介石是好人。我以為他是我們的朋友。這本書把學校教我的事全都推翻了。」我也聽過很多這種回應。

BH: That’s interesting.

丘:真有趣。

SYR: People come up to me and say that often. Like, “I had no idea that this was going on.” Then from Taiwanese-Americans, especially when they come to readings, a lot of them, especially during the Q-and-A, they want to share their own stories and their own experiences. I think it opens up an opportunity for them to talk about their experiences, which is really wonderful.

They’ve said that they want to give the book to their kids so they can understand their story. And then the Taiwanese response has been really supportive. Somebody just sent me an article in which Wu Ming-Yi, who wrote Man with the Compound Eyes, mentioned the book and was talking about how it was important to tell the story. It’s so exciting.

So all around, I think it’s been a really positive response. Like you said, there’s not a lot of books about the topic and that’s exactly what I wanted to do. To tell people this story. To get Taiwan on people’s lips.

楊:人們常常來找我,跟我說這些,像是「我完全不知道發生過這種事。」然後台裔美國人,特別是出席朗讀會的時候,很多人都想在讀者提問時間分享自己的故事和經驗。我想,這本書為他們開啟了一個談論自身經歷的契機,這實在太美妙了。

他們說想要把這本書送給孩子,讓孩子們了解他們的遭遇。至於台灣人的回應則是支持鼓勵。剛剛有人傳給我一篇文章,小說《複眼人》的作者吳明益在文中提及這本書,並且談到說出這些故事是多麼重要。真令人興奮。

所以整體上,我覺得回應是相當正向的。就像你說過的,這個主題並沒有太多人寫過,正因如此我才要寫。告訴人們這個故事,讓人們說話三句不離台灣。

BH: The last thing I would to ask is, what would you want to say in closing, both to a Taiwanese audience and to international readers?

丘:我的最後一個問題是,你想對台灣讀者和全世界讀者說些甚麼,做為結語?

SYR: The book is dark, but ultimately I think there’s a message of hope, that change is possible. In the book, the characters are trapped in the moment, they’re trapped in martial law, and they can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel, but eventually it’s there. They reach this historical transformation and so I think it’s ultimately a hopeful book. I guess that would be my message, that even when change doesn’t seem like it’s possible, it’s still possible.

楊:這本書很黑暗,但我認為,它終究還是傳遞了希望的訊息,讓人們知道改變是可能的。書中的人物受困在時代之中,受困於戒嚴法令之下,他們看不見隧道盡頭的光,但終究是走出了隧道。他們走到了歷史轉變的那一刻,因此我認為,這終究還是一本懷抱著希望的書。我想,這就是我要傳遞的訊息:就算是在改變看起來不可能發生的時候,還是有可能改變的。
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專訪美籍台裔作家楊小娜 「綠島」要讓人們三句不離台灣

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