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Yu, Pei-yun (Text) / Zhou, Jian-xin (Illustration)

Tsai Kun-lin – Der Junge, der gerne las

A Graphic Novel from Taiwan – Volume 1

Translated by Johannes Fiederling
© 2023 Baobab Books
168 pages, softcover, 17,5 x 23,5 cm
CHF 28.00 / € [D] 25,00 / € [A] 25,70
ISBN 978-3-907277-17-1
Ages 14 and up

Kun-lin is barely five years old when the Tsai family is surprised by a devastating earthquake on their way to an ancestral grave in April 1935. Tens of thousands of people die, many are seriously injured, houses damaged or completely destroyed. The Tsais are lucky, all survive.
This early memory is the prelude to the story of Tsai Kun-lin's eventful and long life, which also reflects Taiwan's more recent history. When Tsai Kun-lin was born on Taiwan in 1930, the island had been under Japanese colonial rule for 35 years. This was reflected in many areas of life: Japanese is spoken to local children in kindergarten, schoolchildren learn Japanese folk songs, and some even take Japanese names.
When Japan surrendered in 1945 and withdrew from Taiwan, the Taiwanese breathed a sigh of relief. But soon the Chinese Kuomintang troops marched in from the mainland, and the long period of "White Terror" under Chiang Kai-shek began. Tsai Kun-lin was also a victim of this regime: as a 19-year-old student he was sentenced to ten years in prison. He was accused of being a member of an illegal organisation. In fact, it was the book club of his school. Reading books alone was considered an offence by the regime ...

TSAI Kun-lin

The graphic novel «Tsai Kun-lin» comprises four volumes and almost a century of Taiwanese history. The first volume tells of Kun-lin's childhood and youth, the second volume of his long years in prison. In the third and fourth volumes, we follow the rocky road back to freedom and the successful struggle for democracy and self-determination. Tsai Kun-lin became the editor and publisher of a popular comic magazine, advocated for Taiwan's indigenous population and campaigned for democracy and human rights in Taiwan until his death at the age of 92. The years of «White Terror» under Chiang Kai-shek's military government lasted until 1992.

The author

YU Pei-yun (*1967) studied foreign languages and literature at the National Taiwan University in Taipei and did her doctorate at Ochanomizu University in Japan.
Today, she teaches at the Institute of Children's Literature at Taitung National University and is involved in children's and youth literature in a variety of ways as a critic, translator and curator. In 2016, she met Tsai Kun-lin for the first time, and in conversation with him, the idea of documenting his life was formed.

The illustrator

ZHOU Jian-xin (*1973) was born in southern Taiwan. He studied printmaking at the National School of Art in Taipei, and worked as a printmaker and teacher before setting up his own business as an illustrator. In 2014, he received the Taiwan Golden Butterfly Award for Book Design for his first picture book, and other major awards for his text interpretations followed. With Tsai Kun-lin, he has designed a graphic novel for the first time.

Original edition: «Laizi Qingshui de haizi – Ai du ce de shaonian» © 2020 Slowork Publishing, Taiwan

More volumes


→ Shortlisted for the Max und Moritz-Preis 2024, see their videoportrait

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