Selections from My Mother’s Parasites

 

Parasites live part of their life cycle either upon or within the body of another animal (the host), from which they obtain living nourishment.

Daiyojyouhan Studio: Illustrated Guide to Parasites [1]

 

THE EGG STAGE

 

Tapeworm

When I was a kid, I would often go down to the river to fish with my friends. The fish all had tapeworms, which we would pull out of their stomachs and bury in the ground (we were afraid dogs would dig them up). Then we would roast the fish and eat them. One time, a kid started to play near where we had buried a worm. He was digging and digging at something, but he didn’t know what it was. Later his parents came to get him, and holding our tapeworm in his hand, he proudly turned to them and shouted, “Ha ha ha! Look what I found! A shoelace!”

– A story my Polish friend E. told me

 

One of my clearest childhood memories is a tapeworm I saw in Tokyo’s Meguro Parasitological Museum.

It was a human tapeworm. I don’t remember how long it was—I just remember it was enormous, like the white paper used for receipt tape. Even wrapped in coils, it was many times longer that I was at the time. Now that I think about it, it must have been ten meters. Or maybe it wasn’t that long—it just seemed that way to me as a small child. It was simply beyond my comprehension.

The reason I saw this tapeworm at all was because of my mother. At the time she was assistant professor in the Parasitology Department at the celebrated NTU, National Taiwan University. When people asked her profession, she would give a sly smile and say, “I teach parasites,” implying that the students were the parasites. On the other hand, so as not to be “parasitical” students, her students would say they were in the microbiology department.

Parasites have been in my life for as long as I can remember. We were around each other a lot, like best friends or favorite toys (although they couldn’t play with me; nor I with them). They were like invisible friends.

Before I learned to say my ABCs or “How are you?” in English, I had memorized the complicated and hard-to-pronounce English word “parasitology.” It was listed on the elevator next to the floor of my mother’s department. Still very small, I had great aspirations to memorize all the other English words on the elevator as well: anatomy, pharmacology, biochemistry, public health.

Did I think about earning a PhD in biology like my parents? The answer is both yes and no. The first thing I remember wanting to be is a zoo director (because both my parents studied animals). Later I wanted to be an inventor (that was because of Doraemon) and an elementary school teacher (my parents and maternal grandmother and great-grandfather were all teachers). Then, when I was twelve, I set my heart on becoming a writer (after I read Zhang Xiguo’s book Chess King). Although when I was in middle school, I suddenly decided that I wanted to research jellyfish (because we went to Palao, where the jellyfish were amazing, and I wanted to feel what it was like to be stung).

My parents didn’t comment on my jellyfish announcement. My father just said, “If you want to study jellyfish, you should go to France, because that’s where the best research is being done.” To this day I still don’t know what they thought about all this. Were they glad, “Our daughter has finally chosen the right path.” Or were they worried, “What? She changed her mind again!” Or were they afraid, “Good Lord, not another PhD? Can no one in our family escape this fate?” Speaking of fate, perhaps becoming a “high-level academic” really is a fated, family curse. In the Qing Dynasty, my grandmother’s father was a xiucai, a scholar who passed the imperial exams at the county level; her older sister directed a girls’ school, and my mother and two of my uncles all got their PhDs in the States. On my father’s side, however, he is the only one to have a PhD, and that’s just because the first time he went to my mom’s house for dinner—and an interview—my grandmother pulled him aside and threatened him: “My daughter is going abroad for her PhD, if you want to marry her, you’ll go too.”

Having been born into a family in the PhD business, I have been surrounded by PhD students, post-docs, teaching assistants, assistant professors, professors, department heads, and deans since I was small (it’s true, by the time I grew up, everyone I had played frog sister, big fish sister and earthworm brother with when I was a kid…well they had become members of elite universities). Anyone with any common sense would think my parents hoped I would get a platinum membership card to the PhD club.

But for as long as I can remember, my parents have always told me: “Don’t get a PhD; don’t try to be number one.” (These words, like my mother’s parasites, have always surrounded me.) The reason was this: They had seen too many tragedies in their professional lives, too many people who, in striving to be number one, ended up in the hospital or beaten black and blue by their PhD programs, not knowing the point of life beyond academia. The day they finally earned the first 99% of their lives, they fell apart and ended up with anxiety disorders or even considering suicide.

“Just because you have a PhD doesn’t mean you’ll get a job anyway,” my father would often conclude grimly. “There are too many PhDs these days, and in any case, if you want to be a professor you’ll have to be evaluated by the school and students every year like we are; it’s humiliating. You see how hard I work on my Power Points. How many hundreds of hours do I spend per class, and yet my students don’t appreciate it at all; they think I’m just an idle tenured professor, twiddling his thumbs—so ungrateful.” After saying this, he would return to his Power Points.

But what my parents could not foresee is that their precious little girl not only would not get a PhD or study biology, but that her life would not go smoothly either. Over the years, I’ve deferred my studies, suffered from depression, attempted suicide, and been involuntary admitted to the hospital . . . and now, although things are more stable and I’ve become successful in my field, I still depend, to some degree, emotionally and financially on my parents, just like a parasite.

If I were a parasite, what kind would I be? What would my life cycle be?

 

Hookworm

Me: How’ve you been?

My mom: Great!

Me: And your parasites?

My mom: Also great!

– A frequent exchange between my mom and me when she was raising parasites

 

In December of 2007, my mother finally attained a dream she’d cherished for many years: raising parasites.

She became host to a bevy of hookworms, and I use the word “bevy” without exaggeration, because, according to my mother’s calculations (every month she collected some of her own stool and calculated how many eggs there were), she thinks she must have had about fifty or sixty hookworms. This bevy of “small children” (as she called them) lived in her small intestines, drinking a little blood each month (less than is discharged monthly via menstruation). Beyond that they didn’t need anything. (If you’re raising a dog or a cat you have to buy food for them and clean up their poop and take them to the vet. Raising parasites, my mother avoided all that.)

If what my mother says is true, very few people have hookworms now in Taiwan. (She says the previous generation took eradicating them too seriously.) So where did she get them? It all started with a foreign worker who lived with the relatives of Professor W., one of her colleagues. Professor W. brought in some of the worker’s stools so that the students could practice examination techniques. After examining the eggs, they experimented with cultivating larvae. Not long before, the Discovery Channel had aired a show on the therapeutic effects of hookworms for pollen allergies, which had featured an English professor who’d used himself as a test subject. This sparked the interest of sympathetic students and professors, who then experimented on their own bodies.

It’s not new for scientists to experiment on themselves. To prove that yellow fever was not contagious, Stubbins Ffirth ingested yellow fever victims’ vomit (actually it is contagious but is transmitted by mosquitos). Pierre Curie tied radium to his arm, hoping to prove its effectiveness in curing tumors, and the English parasitologist David Pritchard infected himself with 50 American hookworm larvae through the soles of his feet to see if they could help cure allergies and asthma. (One theory is that, in moderation, they can reduce excessive immune reactions, which would in turn reduce allergic reactions.)

My mom doesn’t have allergies. Her reasoning was: “One parasitologist raised hookworms for 18 years. I want to see if I can break his record.”

Initially I didn’t give much thought to my mother’s parasites. Maybe I considered it a little strange at first, but I don’t live at home anymore, I couldn’t see the parasites, and she assured us that “the parasite isn’t contagious.” (The eggs can cause infection in humans only if egg-invested feces get into the soil, and people step on the larva, which then bore through the skin. My mom says this is impossible in Taipei; everyone uses flush toilets.) So I didn’t think much about it. It was just an interesting anecdote I told my friends.

So who knew my mother’s parasites would become the spark that lit a family revolution.

When my depression and personality disorder were at their worst, and their destructive attacks at their strongest, my mother honored my husband’s request (perhaps we could say threat?) to come to Poland and take care of me and my son. Then, maybe because he realized he couldn’t stand living under the same roof as his mother-in-law (who comments if you use too much dish soap), or maybe because of the grievances that have accumulated over the years (since they don’t understand the same languages, they hardly ever speak directly to each other), or maybe because he couldn’t get over the fact that “Wow, suddenly my wife isn’t depressed anymore”), in any case, after we had planned for my mother to come back in two months, and the tickets had been bought, my husband announced out of the blue: “Your mother can come, but her parasites are not welcome.”

His side of the story was that he suddenly felt it wasn’t right. Of course, he had known for years that my mother was raising parasites, but he hadn’t thought much about it before. However, now that our son was born, he suddenly realized it might be contagious! What?! Right after he was born, we let my mom and dad hold him, didn’t we? Yeah, well, there’s nothing we can do about that now. Things were so chaotic, I didn’t have time to think about it. In any case it didn’t matter, because now that he’d thought about it, he was duty bound to guard our family’s health. One mends the pen, even after the sheep are lost. Better late than never. So we wouldn’t come to regret it. No, we’d have to do some research on the parasite, if it might affect us, we’d have to keep a couple of meters distance from your mother.

“But this parasite isn’t contagious.” I said.

“You sound just like your mother,” he snorted. “They are par-a-sites for Christ’s sake. Listen. I cannot allow parasites into our home. Or we’ll see each other in court.”

(It sounded just like a Hollywood movie.)

So we tried to do some research on my mother’s hookworms.

Since both of us lack general medical knowledge and neither of us understands Latin very well, we decided to consult a local expert. My husband asked a research fellow at an infectious disease center, but the answer he got was, “Sorry, I don’t know much about parasites.” I called a doctor friend (he’s also the editor of a Polish medical journal), but he told me, “Krakow doesn’t have a parasitologist. Maybe there’s one somewhere in Poland, but I’m not sure I’d know where to look.”

 

For the first time in my life I admired my mother’s professional standing. Turns out it’s rare, which made me think of the famous television host Hu Gua saying “Well, when Little Zhen tries to make it in the industry—then she’ll understand how famous her dad is.”

Since we couldn’t ask a parasitologist, I asked my therapist. Who has the problem here? My mother? My husband? Or is it me? To be raising a–well, a nest–of parasites, is that a kind of mental illness? My husband won’t tolerate it. Is he normal? And me? How should I handle this?”

“How do you think you should handle it?” my therapist asked. “What’s your opinion?”

After a long silence I said: “I don’t have an opinion.”

Did I really not have an opinion about my mother raising parasites? Or was I afraid to have an opinion? If I had an opinion, did this represent a conflict between us? Could she cut off her years of financial and emotional support because of this? Would it still be fair for me to go home? Then I suddenly remembered: I actually had expressed an opinion about her parasites. It was after she saw a Discovery show about using maggots for wound management. Carried away with enthusiasm, she said that after she retired she wanted to turn our house into a maggot farm. I said, “Well if that happens, I won’t come home anymore.” And she said, “You don’t live here anymore anyway.” But that plan never came to fruition.

 

I called my mother.

“Hanhan! Hanhan! Say: ‘Gramma,’ ‘Gramma!’” Before had even started talking, she was calling for her precious grandson.

“He’s sleeping,” I said.

“Oh.”

After beating around the bush for a while, talking about the weather, politics, whether we had enough money, that kind of unimportant stuff, I thought it was time to broach the topic:

“Mom, I have to ask you something . . . Why are your raising parasites?”

“Why? It’s been my dream!”

“Why is raising parasites your dream?”

“Because it’s fun! I want to see how long they can live in my body. In America, one professor raised them for 18 years . . .”

“Could they harm you? Is this a form of self-mutilation?”

“That’s taking it a little far! Ha ha ha. There’s nothing harmful about it. This parasite can cure allergies. Plus, I’m telling you, I had Hepatitis B, but since I’ve been raising the parasites, it’s totally disappeared!”

“That might be a coincidence.”

“It would be quite a coincidence.”

“The parasite isn’t contagious?”

“It’s not. Haven’t I already told you? It needs soil.”

“But there are some people who don’t like your parasites. Some people who don’t want to be in contact with you because of them.”

“Who? Who am I bothering?”

“For example, my husband. He doesn’t like that you have parasites.”

“But he won’t see them or touch them.”

“Yes, but he knows you have them.”

“If you hadn’t told him about them at the beginning, things would have been fine. Why did you have to tell him?”

“You’re blaming me?”

“He just doesn’t get it. This parasite doesn’t harm me at all.”

“The issue isn’t whether or not he gets it; the issue is whether or not he likes it.”

“Well . . . well, he smokes, doesn’t he? I don’t like that he smokes, but I still tolerate him. Why can’t he tolerate my parasites?”

“I think you’re probably aware that there are many people in the world who smoke, but there are very few who voluntarily raise parasites. If raising parasites is really something that’s 100% advantageous and 0% detrimental, then why isn’t every one of the six billion people on the planet raising them?”

“That would be my utopia. I just haven’t figured out how to make it happen.”

“Can you get rid of your parasites?”

“Why should I get rid of them? I’ve been raising them for more than four years!”

“My husband says if you don’t get rid of them, you’re not welcome here.”

“If I’m not welcome, then I’m not welcome. I won’t come. How’s that.”

“So when we come back home what will we do? You won’t be able to hold Hanhan.”

“Does it matter to you?”

“No, it doesn’t matter to me . . . Well yes, it matters. Because of your parasites, we’ve been fighting a lot. I’ve tried talking with him, but we have to be on the same side, no matter which side that is.”

“So what should we do? Cut off contact?”

“Would it be so hard to get rid of your parasites?”

“But they’ve been good to me! I don’t want to get rid of them! And on top of that, I can provide teaching materials for my students. Before they had to collect dog poop on the street, and since they’re not in all the poop, they weren’t even sure they’d find any parasites.”

“So your professional life is more important than your personal life? More important than my happiness?”

“How can you say that? There’s no comparison.”

“Ma, why do you want to raise parasites?”

“I’ve told you, it’s an interest of mine! I’m weird, ok! But research shows that being infected with hookworms has many benefits. You can treat allergies and irritable bowel syndrome and guard against autoimmune diseases, even cancer!”

I forget when I hung up the phone, or if I shouted some things I shouldn’t have. The whole conversation was embarrassing. I felt like a spoiled, difficult child. (If you don’t do X, I won’t like you anymore.) But what perplexed me, what made me uneasy and surprised to the point of feeling sorry and sad, was that I really couldn’t understand. Why did my mother want to raise parasites so badly? Although I’d known her for more than thirty years, I still didn’t understand her at all.

After a stalemate of two or three months (during which my home life was often filled with the smell of gunpowder and the three soap opera tactics: 1. cry, 2. shout, and 3. threaten to kill yourself), my mother finally decided to compromise. She would sacrifice her parasites. It seemed the affection camp had won the battle. However, she would not get rid of them until after the start of the new school year, so that she could provide materials for her students. (Hadn’t she retired already?) Our revolution was a success. But I didn’t feel like a victor. For my family’s happiness, I had forced my mother to sacrifice her dream. Yet even though our behavior honestly seemed so petty, I secretly felt a little happy, too, because I had proven that I was more important than the parasites, no matter what the point of the proof was, or if it was even needed.

I had my mother all to myself and could feel as happy as before, even if it did feel criminal to have had a hand in the murder of her “small children.”

 

Infant

A woman’s life changes in many ways when she conceives a child. Up until that point she may have been a person of wide interests, perhaps in business, or a keen politician, or an enthusiastic tennis player, or one who has always been ready for a dance or a “do.” She may have tended to despise the relatively restricted lives of friends who have had a child, making rude remarks about their resemblance to vegetables. She may have been actually repelled by such technical details as the washing and airing of napkins. If she has been interested in children, her interest can be said to have been sentimental rather than practical. But sooner or later she herself becomes pregnant.

At first it may easily happen that she resents this fact, because she can see only too clearly what a terrible interference with her “own” life it must mean. What she sees is true enough, and it would be silly for anyone to deny it. Babies are a lot of trouble, and they are a positive nuisance unless they are wanted. If a young woman has not yet begun to want the baby she is carrying she cannot avoid feeling that she is just unlucky.

– Donald W. Winnicot, child psychologist [2]

 

Among my grandfather’s papers, collected while he was alive, we found a small booklet for the Republic of China’s Tenth Annual Ten Outstanding Women of the Year Award. Inside was an article about my mother, an award recipient. In the happy, family photo, my mother and father smile into the camera, holding one-year-old, chubby-wubby me. The article is mostly about Mama, who came from a poor family to get a master’s degree at National Taiwan University and then went on to earn her PhD in the United States, before returning to Taiwan continue her research and teaching. Now she had a happy family life complete with a baby girl . . . it all reads as if she were determined to succeed.

As for being one of the ten outstanding women of the year, the way Mama tells it, “In those years very few women went abroad for PhDs, so that was the only reason I got one. Nothing special.” But according to my grandmother, “President Chiang Ching-kuo himself gave her the award. When you grow up, you should bring home a Ten Outstanding Women of the Year Award like your mama.” (When I asked Mama for verification later, she said that year it was Lee Teng-hui and not Chiang Ching-kuo who passed out the awards. Did my grandmother remember wrong? Or did I hear her wrong? ) Many years later, the award was enshrined in a glass cabinet in our home next to two carved, wooden elephants. Every time we opened the cabinet, the scent of wood would waft into the air.

When I would ask, “Why did you go abroad for your PhD?” Mama always said,“To fulfill my mother’s dream.” Before my grandmother fled China for Taiwan, and became both a miserable and extremely capable housewife and mother, she had studied education at a teachers college. She could have become the director of a top-level school like her older sister, or, at the very least, a successful teacher. But then the “Mari Incident” occurred in Changsha, and, as my Niangniang (what we called my mother’s older sister) tells it, blood flowed through Changsha like a river, and Grandmother had to step over dead bodies to make her way home from the city. When school finally resumed, for some reason there wasn’t enough time for her to catch up with her class, so she entered the silk department at the provincial girls school instead. Her grades were so good that after she graduated she became a teacher for a few years before she married and had a daughter.

Whenever we talk about my maternal grandmother, my mother always says, in a tone that is at once admiring and resentful, “Your grandmother was so intelligent and gifted. She could write, paint, make clothes—even sing opera. She was an educated and cultured woman. It’s too bad she married your grandfather. As a young man he was a real Casanova, and even when he was over 90, he would make comments about the nurses when he was at the hospital for exams. And every year on his birthday, with tears swimming in his eyes, he would mourn his grandmother, who had been dead who knows how long, but he would say nothing about his wife. It was completely reprehensible.”

“Women must have their own careers and earn their own money.” That was my grandmother’s oft-repeated golden law and jade rule. Mama told me, “When your grandmother stayed at home to take care of the children, she had to ask your grandfather for money for groceries and household expenses, which she found very humiliating.”

I don’t know when my grandmother started to pin her hopes on my mother. Perhaps when she discovered she was naturally gifted and excelled in school. Or, maybe it was simply because there was no one else. Her eldest daughter had to work to support the family, and her second daughter had, sadly, remained in China. Although the three sons she brought with her were all very competent . . . well a girl was a girl, and only she could be her doppelgänger and “strive to fulfill her aspirations.” (Of course she still treasured her sons the most.) So, even though she hadn’t been able to finish at the teacher’s college, her daughter would get into the best high school in Taiwan, Taipei First Girls High School, and then NTU, and then go on to earn her PhD in the United States before coming back and becoming a professor at a top school. Her future husband would naturally follow her good advice willingly, so that she could achieve her dream—or should I say her mother’s dream?

When my mother was in fifth grade, she transferred from the school for children of Air Force employees to a state school, where she went from the top student to the sixth. She said at the time her mother would cry and yell as she studied, which made her very ashamed. Little #6 then went to Taipei, where her rank fell even lower. Grandmother said, “If she doesn’t test into a state school she could go be a maid!”

At Taipei First Girls High, her name always hung close to the bottom of the list, so no one thought she would pass the college entrance exam, but a divine miracle occurred, and she managed to test into NTU’s Biology Department. All her teachers’ eyeglasses must have fallen off their noses.

After graduating four years later, she started a master’s degree in parasitology in the microbiology department of the same school. When she finished, in accordance with my grandmother’s wishes, she applied for a scholarship to an American university, where she would complete her PhD. My father applied too, of course. The only problem was their schools were so far apart, they could only see each other over the long vacations.

My father was in the States for four years, but because Mama followed her advisor to Edinburgh to help with research and was also ill with Hepatitis B, she was gone six years. Once, because his roommate teased him, “Ha ha ha, your wife left you—she’s never coming back,” they spent more than $100 fighting on a long-distance call.

Mama was 36 when I was born. Baba was 40. I once asked my mother, “Why did you wait so long to have children?” She said, “In the States, we saw each other so rarely, and after I came back to Taiwan, my health still wasn’t good.” (Because of the Hepatitis B she weighed only a little over 40 kilos [88 lbs.], even though she’s 160 centimeters tall [5.2 feet]. You could have called her Flat Stanley.) By the time she was well enough to get pregnant, she was no longer young, so she had several miscarriages.

“How many miscarriages did you have?”

“Oh, three or four. When I was pregnant with you I also lost a lot of blood. I had to be on bed rest for more than two months. After you were born, we tried two or three more times, but I had miscarriages then too.”

“Despite all that, you still wanted to get pregnant? Why go to such lengths? Was having children so important to you?”

“Well, I like children! Only with children does a house seem a home.”

When I was born I only weighed 1,690 grams (3.7 lbs.), or as my father put it, I looked like “a newborn kitten.” The doctor caught me in a single hand and then turned me over and said, “Professor L., your daughter.” (His students joked everyone got passing grades that year.) Usually a newborn photo is taken, but the nurse and doctors were afraid I was so small my parents would find it hard to look at later, so they waited almost a month before they took my picture. After I was born they put me right into an incubator. (At the time they hadn’t come up with the idea of skin-to-skin, “kangaroo care.”) I stayed in the hospital for six weeks before coming home.

My maternal grandparents took care of me. My mom debated whether to take maternity leave, but because she’d already taken so much time for bed rest, she was too embarrassed to ask for more, so after I was born and she had finished her postnatal resting period, she went back to work.

When I began to talk, the question I asked most was, “Mama?” My grandmother would always answer, “Your mama is at work! If she doesn’t work, how will we eat? We will all starve to death!”

When I was small I believed her. I believed her from the bottom of my heart, “If your mama doesn’t work, we’ll starve to death.” Now I sometimes can’t help thinking, “Really? If Mama hadn’t worked, would we have all starved to death? Baba didn’t earn enough? If Mama had stayed with me for a little while, what would have happened? Would she have lost her job? Or if Mama hadn’t returned to work, would my grandmother or mother have thought she was a failure? Did she like going to work that much? More than taking care of her baby?”

Shouldn’t my mother have wanted to stay with me? I don’t have any memories from when I was small. I can only look at pictures. The woman and the child in them look very happy, like they really love each other, but they also look a little forced.

It wasn’t until my son was born, and I saw how my mother would sing lullabies to him, and play with him and recite “Fly, fly little bug,” that I realized, oh, so this is what my childhood was like. I, too, was once this deeply loved. I, too, brought the people who cared for me this much joy.

In an interview for a prize she’d won, Mama once said, “Research, teaching, and children are the things that bring me the most joy.”

I am compelled to say that when I first saw this I felt overwhelmed by the compliment. You could even say I was shocked. I’m on this list? I am one of the three things that bring my mother the most joy? I don’t only cause her aggravation and stress? (She went through so much to give birth to me.) At the same time, I felt a little indignant: she listed me AFTER research and teaching? Or was that just chronological order? And I’m also a little curious: What about Baba? Why isn’t he on the list? My mother’s partner, her (mutual) complement and guide. What about him?

________________________________________________________________

Notes

[1] Illustrated Guide to Parasites. Written by Daiyojyouhan Studio, translated into Chinese by Yang Yuqiao, Lianpu Publishers, 2014.

[2] From The Child, the Family and the Outside World, “Chapter 1: Getting to Know Your Baby,” New York: Penguin Books, 1978, page 19.

Bios

Wei-Yun Lin

Wei-Yun Lin (林蔚昀) was born in 1982 in Taipei, Taiwan. She saw Trainspotting at the age of 17, so she went to United Kingdom, where she earned a BA in theatre studies at Brunel University in London. She then went to Poland because of a Polish theatre poster by Wiktor Sadowski, and because of Bruno Schulz. In Cracow, she studied Polish, got married, and began to translate Polish literature. She’s translated Andrzej Sapkowski, Bruno Schulz, Wislawa Szymborska, Tadeusz Rozewicz, Janusz Korczak, Igor T. Miecik, Witold Szabłowski, and many others. In 2013, she received the Order of Merit in Polish Culture (Odznaka ‘Zasłużony dla Kultury Polskiej’) from the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage of the Republic of Poland, being the first Taiwanese person to receive this award. She is the author of three prose collections: 我媽媽的寄生蟲 (“My Mother’s Parasites”),  易鄉人 (“Translanders”), and 回家好難: 寫給故鄉的33個字詞 (“So hard to return home”). My Mother’s Parasites won a Golden Tripod Award from the Taiwan Ministry of Culture in 2017 and was published in Korea in 2018. Lin has also authored a poetry collection entitled 自己和不是自己的房間 (“A Room of One’s Own and Not of One’s Own”) and is now preparing a picture book called 憤世媽媽日記 (“The Diary of a Cynical Mom”). She currently lives in Taiwan with her husband and two sons.

Emily Goedde

Emily Goedde has been translating and thinking about translation since she was a high school student, when she spent her senior year as an exchange student in France. After college she lived in China for several years, where she was a writer for ex-pat publications. She then returned to the states to earn an MFA in literary translation from The University of Iowa and a PhD in Comparative Literature from the University of Michigan, where her “creative” dissertation was a study of how translating wartime poetry taught her how to listen. She has been teaching writing, translation, and listening for over ten years to students of many different backgrounds, and she has developed sound studies projects, a literary translation journal, and translate-a-thons, which bring students together with professionals to translate documents for nonprofit organizations. For the past two years, she has been working as a freelance literary translator, and has published her work in The Iowa Review, harlequin creature, and Jade Mirror: Women Poets of China, among other publications.

Copyright (c) Wei-Yun Lin, 2016. English translation copyright (c) Emily Goedde, 2019.