Monday, 20 July 2015

Night Market

Other projects have taken up so much of my time lately I've been sadly remiss in posting regularly on Tales From the Beautiful Isle. If it's any excuse, a different kind of tale has drawn me away from this personal blog.

I belong to the Taipei Writers' Group, and recently we published an anthology called Night Market, which is our second anthology following on from Taiwan Tales. Meetings, messaging, book launches and other time sumps have kept me well occupied.

Taiwan is famous for its night markets. Shilin and Raohe are probably the most well known, but there are many in Taipei and other cities in Taiwan. Night markets are also a phenomenon in other countries with large ethnically Taiwanese or Chinese populations.

The blurb for Night Market begins, "You can find anything in the night market", and this, as well as the convenient hours, is part of their charm. From stinky tofu through rainwear (a Taiwan essential) to a new pet, the chances are that if you want it, a night market has it.

But night markets are for relaxing as much as shopping, and the atmosphere is "hot and noisy", a valued attribute in Taiwan, though probably not valued so much by those who live nearby. On a hot summer's night the many bodies in close confinement create excessive heat, and pop music is pumped out of loudspeakers, causing the hawkers to shout even louder to be heard above the background noise.

Night markets are sometimes hot in another sense. The police drive away stallholders without permits, only for them to reappear from the shadows when the coast is clear. Semi-legal and outright illegal products can also sometimes be purchased at night markets, though the goods may not be on public view.

The ten stories in Night Market reflect this eclectic mix. Some are dark and sad; others are whimsical or light-hearted. Many are based on the experiences of Taiwanese nationals or people who have lived in Taiwan for many years. The ebook is available at Amazon, but if you prefer your books to be solid and real with pages you can turn, the TWG is holding a book launch at Rue 216 on 23rd August from 3 to 5 pm. I'd love to see you there.

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