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Wild Kids: Two Novels About Growing Up [Hardcover]

Chang Ta-chun , Michael Berry
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
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Book Description

Aug. 31 2000 Modern Chinese Literature from Taiwan

These two searingly funny and unsettling portraits of teenagers beyond the control and largely beneath the notice of adults in 1980s Taiwan are the first English translations of works by Taiwan's most famous and best-selling literary cult figure. Chang Ta-chun's intricate narrative and keen, ironic sense of humor poignantly and piercingly convey the disillusionment and cynicism of modern Taiwanese youth.

Interweaving the events between the birth of the narrator's younger sister and her abortion at the age of nineteen, the first novel, My Kid Sister, evokes the complex emotional impressions of youth and the often bizarre social dilemmas of adolescence. Combining discussions of fate, existentialism, sexual awakening, and everyday "absurdities" in a typically dysfunctional household, it documents the loss of innocence and the deconstruction of a family.

In Wild Child, fourteen-year-old Hou Shichun drops out of school, runs away from home, and descends into the Taiwanese underworld, where he encounters an oddball assortment of similarly lost adolescents in desperate circumstances. This novel will inevitably invite comparisons with the classic The Catcher in the Rye, but unlike Holden Caulfield, Hou isn't given any second chances. With characteristic frankness and irony, Chang's teenagers bear witness to a new form of cultural and spiritual bankruptcy.


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From Publishers Weekly

Can Taiwan's teen angst grab American readers? Let's hope so: Chang writes accessible, knowing and very funny fiction about youth and screwed-up familiesAsome of the best of its kind. A literary superstar and major bestseller in Taiwan, Chang is treated there (as translator Berry's introduction explains) like a big-time movie star. His first publication in English consists of My Kid Sister (1993) and Wild Child (1996), both narrated by the witty, appealing, former Taipei delinquent Big Head Spring. In My Kid Sister, Big Head weaves together stories about his adolescence and its cast of supporting characters: comically quarrelsome grandparents, an unstable mother, a dominating father, a first girlfriend, a couple of difficult schoolmates and above all a defiant sister, whose escapades "help her learn just how very crazy and unfair this world is." Among the topics Chang addresses are Chinese legends, wet dreams, music lessons, divorce, Taiwanese politics, middle-school quarrels, pregnancy, "the secret method of how to make your penis larger," amateur videography, death and mourning, and "how terrifying an ability storytelling can be." His wry nuances should attract fans of J.D. Salinger; the faux-na?f ironies, well-concealed literariness and occasional metafictional touches could remind older readers of Grace Paley. Younger fans will simply enjoy the voice: at the climax of one tale, Big Head complains to himself, "Your dad is having an affair, except for playing her violin your sister doesn't understand shit, and your mother is insane." Wild Child's terse, understated chapters chronicle young Big Head's involvement with a gang, whose violent, scarred but loyal members form a kind of surrogate family: the later novel seems less fresh in English, far more tied to its Taipei milieu. My Kid Sister, on the other hand, could be America's next teen classic.
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Review

Chang is an astute observer and perceptive cultural critic...English readers will easily identify with the sentiments and circumstances portrayed by Chang and skillfully translated by Berry.

(Sylvia Li-chun Lin, University of Colorado, Denver World Literature Today)

Ghoulish, playful, totally subversive.

(Emily Gordon Newsday)

In two jaunty, disturbing novellas from Taiwan... Chang Ta-chun presents us with disaffected adolescents who roam city streets, complain about school, fantasize about gangster life, and wear Chicago Bulls T-shirts.

(Maureen McLane The New York Times Book Review)

Chang writes accessible, knowing and very funny fiction about youth and screwed-up families -- some of the best of its kind.... My Kid Sister... could be America's next teen classic.

(Publishers Weekly)

It's a considerable feat to have kids spout off about existentialism and not have them sound pretentious. Or high.

(Barbara Spindel Spin)

Wild Kids turned out to be not only the window on Taiwan I was looking for, but also a quick and enjoyable summer read. It is not without depth nor short of something to sink your teeth into.

(Jonathan S. Landreth VirtualChina.com)

This novel will inevitably invite comparisons with the classic The Catcher in the Rye.

(Philippines Today)

Churning out political thrillers, martial arts short stories, hard-boiled detective mysteries, a sci-fi, collection, and just about every other genre since 1976, Chang Ta-chun is a literary celebrity in Taiwan.

(Martin Wong Giant Robot Magazine)

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5.0 out of 5 stars Introspective journeys Oct. 2 2000
Format:Hardcover
Wild Kids is split into two stories, Kid Sister and Wild Child. I preferred Kid Sister but both were great stories. Kid Sister is about the narrator's younger sister getting an abortion and he recollects how she has affected his life. Wild Child is about a young boy that has a wild side that leads him to the wrong place where he ends up on a destructive path. Both stories examine the narrator's family life, inner problems, issues, how society affects people and relations with others. Neither of the stories flow in a conventional manner, jumping from different events while intertwining thoughts and recollections of childhood memories. The story still does not lose you and keeps you engrossed to the end. I definitely reccommend this book.
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Amazon.com: 5.0 out of 5 stars  1 review
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Introspective journeys Oct. 1 2000
By "ohdarling" - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Wild Kids is split into two stories, Kid Sister and Wild Child. I preferred Kid Sister but both were great stories. Kid Sister is about the narrator's younger sister getting an abortion and he recollects how she has affected his life. Wild Child is about a young boy that has a wild side that leads him to the wrong place where he ends up on a destructive path. Both stories examine the narrator's family life, inner problems, issues, how society affects people and relations with others. Neither of the stories flow in a conventional manner, jumping from different events while intertwining thoughts and recollections of childhood memories. The story still does not lose you and keeps you engrossed to the end. I definitely reccommend this book.
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