My first book, Vignettes of Taiwan:Short Stories, Essays & Random Meditations about Taiwan was published by Things Asian Press in 2006.
When Joshua Samuel Brown first stepped out of the passenger terminal at Chiang Kai-shek International Airport in Taiwan, he was a stranger in a humid land with insufficient funds, zero job prospects and an over-packed suitcase. Like much else in his life up to that point, his decision to move to Taiwan was based largely on random occurrence and cosmic coincidence. He was twenty-four years old, thousands of miles away from home, and at that moment the happiest man alive. This anthology of short stories, travel essays, photographs, random meditations, and political meanderings grew out of his years on the island formerly known as Formosa.
Purchase Vignettes of Taiwan at Amazon.com
A few reviews of Vignettes of Taiwan:
February 13, 2013
Not only was it well-received, but it has become something of a favorite. By her reckoning, the writing is readable, meaningful, and engaging, and the sense of the place is deeply conveyed. She was overjoyed to have these stories to refer to—stories that she said took her back to the days and nights of Taiwan and the many lovely people and things that she misses there.
After hearing this, I did some reading as well, and even as an outsider, I found that it compares well with much contemporary travel writing. The place is illuminated in little vignettes, each of which is artfully and subtly constructed. In some ways, they remind me of Zen Koans, though this will surely make actual practitioners cringe. It’s not meant to be a comparison at the literal level, however—more at the instinctive one.
In short, it’s a nice read, whether you’ve been there or not, and the stories will enrich the reader as a human being and citizen of the world in the way that the best works of literature do.
March 31, 2013
March 15, 2012
I am a Taiwanese who grew up in the States. This book is so good. It points out many, if not all, of the complex cultural dilemma/paradox and people’s confusing behavior in Taiwan. But this is not for you if you are not culturally aware enough or if you only want to know how to survive in Taiwan because you are flying there in 1 week.
I love the short stories on people (based on real stories) – the local Mahjong legend whose own little shop was eye-balled by the mafia, the Betel Nut girl who fantasized that white men are good people, etc.
Something about the book made me feel that it could have been better. So I am giving it a 4. But since it is only $12, I’d definitely recommend everyone to purchase it, including my fellow Taiwanese.
May 16, 2006
Joshua Samuel Brown is the Mahatma Gandhi of restaurant criticism, the Rudyard Kipling of professional boxing, the Lance Armstrong of economic planning. His voice shines in this magnificent exposition of over a decade of perplexing customs and offensive odors.
Proud and misunderstood like Taiwan itself, Mr. Brown regales us with tales of Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek, betel nuts, and how to avoid jail time by impersonating a mormon.
This is a book to be read aloud by the fireside while snacking on extremely sour dried fruits and squid jerky.