Wu Ming-Yi 吳明益

Writer, painter, designer, photographer, literary professor, butterfly scholar, environmental activist, traveler and blogger rolled into one, Wu Ming-Yi is very much a modern Renaissance Man. Over the last decade, he has produced an impressive body of work, especially with his fiction and nature writing.

Wu Ming-Yi (b.1971) studied advertising at Fu-Jen Catholic University and has a PhD in Chinese Literature from National Central University. He has been teaching literature and creative writing at Dong Hwa University since 2000 and is now Professor of the Department of Chinese.

Wu’s literary reputation was first established by his nature writing. In THE BOOK OF LOST BUTTERFLIES (2000) and THE WAY OF BUTTERFLIES (2003), he chronicles his lifelong fascination with this beautiful creature and contemplates the invisible bond between man and nature. He wrote, designed, and provided drawings and photographs for the books, as if crafting works of art. Both books made the “Best of the Year” lists, with THE WAY OF BUTTERFLIES winning China Times’ Open Book Award and being chosen as one of the ten most influential books by Kingstore Bookstore.

In 2006, juggling academic life and the need for a period of uninterrupted time for his writing and traveling, Wu decided to resign from his teaching post. This is unheard of in a country where almost no one can make a living writing full-time and many would fight for a stable teaching job. In the end, Dong Hwa University gave Wu a year of sabbatical leave – they didn't want to lose him.

A year later, Wu published two books: his third collection of nature writing, SO MUCH WATER SO CLOSE TO HOME, and his debut novel, ROUTES IN THE DREAM. DREAM re-imagines Taiwan’s complicated history as a Japanese colony and examines the relationship between fathers and sons, memory and dreams. Hailed as a groundbreaking work of literary historical fiction, it was nominated for every major award and was chosen as one of the ten best Chinese-language novels of the year by Asian Weekly magazine (along with Ai Mi’s Hawthorn Tree Forever, Liu Zhenyun’s My Name Is Liu Yuejin, and Dai Sijie’s Once on a Moonless Night) . Wu was the only Taiwanese author on the list.

It is his eco-fantasy novel THE MAN WITH THE COMPOUND EYES (2011), however, that has gained Wu international recognition, with major English and French translations appearing in 2013 and 2014. A “Taiwanese Life of Pi”, it is an ambitious exploration of Taiwan's island identity, the cost of environmental degradation, and how humans make sense of the world around them, at once poetic, philosophical and far-reaching. It has already caught the attention of major writers in the genre such as Ursula K. Le Guin.

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