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.
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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