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by Jennifer Laidlaw

Vignettes of Taiwan coverAt 155 pages, Vignettes of Taiwan is a relatively short book, full of tales and large, vibrant photographs. The book is set-up for both the newcomer and the old friend. It begins with a note on the choice of names used throughout, explaining the difficult circumstances around deciding upon “the correct” Taiwanese place names due to numerous name changes based on politics and the adoption of various systems to account for foreigners, Chinese rule, and Taiwanese governments.

Joshua Samuel Brown ventured to Taiwan in 1994. A fresh university graduate hoping to strike gold in Japan’s land of the rising sun, Brown was convinced by the owner of a small dim sum café in Rochester that he would be better off living in her homeland of Taiwan teaching English. His wallet agreed. A decade later, he still calls Taiwan home.

Brown’s book briefly covers Taiwanese history and then delves humorously into tales of his first experiences in Taiwan, from escaping near marriage over dinner at his receptionist’s family home to being screamed at by the recorded song in the supermarket to please leave and come again another day.

He describes his first experiences with cho dofu, or “stinky tofu”, provides advice for getting rid of annoying expatriates, and explains the dangers of living on the fourth floor (pronounced si, four is nearly identical with the word si, which is death; and therefore very suspect).

I was laughing out loud at his tales of how work visas could be bypassed if the school principal had friends in the local police department, his theories on the dating scene for a foreign woman versus a foreign man, and his encounter with a transvestite television personality dressed up as Taiwanese Vice President Annette Lu.

The book is great for a reminisce, an introduction to a foreign land, or as a quick-fix for an armchair traveller.

Product Details

Vignettes of Taiwan – Short Stories, Essays & Random Meditations About Taiwan
By Joshua Samuel Brown

Publisher: ThingsAsian Press, III edition (April 25, 2006)
Price: US$10.36
Paperback: 158 pages
Language: English
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