Taiwanese-Canadian Stories


Please click here to hear the Taiwanese pronunciation of “Miah” or 命.

Edited by renowned author, M. G. Vassanji, this is the first Taiwanese-Canadian story collection ever published.

Miah is a rare look at Taiwanese and modern Canadian life, historical, and personal, and completely honest.

From the back cover:
“Half century under Japan then half century under Kuomintang . . .too much,” my mother would sigh and shake her head.”Miah means “fate” in Taiwanese. Spanning much of the twentieth century, these linked, subtly understated stories trace the destinies of simple folk from the brutal Japanese occupation of the early twentieth century through to the “White Terror” of the exiled Chinese Mainlanders and the Kuomintang, and finally to modern Taiwan and Canada. In the powerfully gripping “Miah,” a woman from Vancouver accompanies her mother to Taiwan for her grandmother Ah Mah’s funeral. There she discovers the tragic story of Fifth Uncle, who was hounded by Kuomintang forces until he took pesticides and died . . . In “The Colonel and Mrs Wang” a Mainlander officer and his Taiwanese-raised son confront each other over politics. One day, the son is betrayed to the authorities. Who was the anonymous informer? . . . In the touching story “Lysander,” a modern day Taiwanese boy is sent to Vancouver for his education. A diamond cannot be polished without friction, he has been taught.  He must bear the hardship in an alien teenage culture where he tries to desperately cope and eventually loses himself.


Miah is “the first book-length Taiwanese Canadian text in English to fictionalize the links between Taiwan and Canada. The collection’s interlinked stories ambitiously cut across the Pacific, from rural communities in southern Taiwan to Vancouver’s West Point Grey, from the factory zones of Shenzhen to East Vancouver…movingly narrates histories of loss and defiance…Lin’s stories move through these histories and across multiple migrations to Canada, which are often represented with deft irony…Especially impressive is the concluding story “Gentle Warriors,” which shows, through multiple points-of-view, how such apparently disparate lives can intersect.”
Canadian Literature Issue #219
(Contested Migrations. Spec. issue of Canadian Literature 219 (Winter 2013): 145-47)

“These engaging and poignant stories provide a window into complexities of lives divided between Taiwan and Canada in the twentieth century. With each story another layer is peeled, moving us closer to understanding the price of survival under cruel and repressive regimes. A fine debut.”
— JUDY FONG BATES, author of China Dog and Other Stories   

“Julia Lin uses the short story form successfully to handle the subject of a novel—family saga. These intriguing short narratives engage the readers in an exploration of four generations of an extended family living across the Pacific Ocean in Taiwan and Vancouver; the narrative journey connects history, cultures and languages to detect and disclose both what the characters call a Taiwanese resilience and the skeletons in the family closet.  Miah is a rich, interesting book to read about largely unknown aspects of Taiwanese Canadian culture.”
–LIEN CHAO, author of The Chinese Knot and Other Stories and Tiger Girl

“Through several linked stories, the author adds unexpected dimensions to characters we thought we knew, and these shifts in vantage-point enrich the whole…By re-introducing various characters in this way, the author prods us to realize that human beings are far more complex than they appear…Julia Lin has a rich vein of literary ore to mine as she gives expression to Taiwanese voices with both compassion and restraint. We stand to gain much insight from these stories and from her future work.”
–CAROLE GIANGRANDE, author of An Ordinary Star, A Forest Burning, Missing Persons, and A Gardener On The Moon  

“A truly international author confronts her simultaneously Taiwanese and Canadian past through these interlinked stories. The book functions as a loosely wrought family saga, leading the reader from modern Vancouver to 1940s Taiwan and back through the stories of immigrants, activists, and mothers. Julia Lin’s prose is frank and down-to-earth while retaining its capacity for subtlety and grace.”
—World Literature Today (Nota Benes, September/October 2013)

Miah is grounded in vivid and, often times poetic images…Lin’s debut heralds a new voice in Asian-Canadian literature.  Lin’s stories are personal and honest, like stories told after dinner plates have been taken to the sink, and hot oolong tea rests quietly in porcelain cups.”
—Ricepaper magazine, Issue 18.2, Fall 2013

“[T]he juxtapositions and thematic connections between ‘home’ and ‘homeland’ are provocative and challenging, and one hopes that Lin, along with others who have experienced the transitions of Taiwan’s history from various global locations, continue to produce such finely crafted fiction.”
—Wasafiri Literary Magazine, Issue 79, Autumn 2014

Joseph Planta Interview

Miah made the top ten list of Quill and Quire’s Fall Preview of Short Fiction for 2012.

Miah is part of the curriculum for Asian Studies 363: Fiction and Film from Modern Taiwan at the University of British Columbia.