Last Will Undelivered
English sample translation available
"The Goodbye letters had only 140 miles to travel, but they would take 60 years to be delivered…”-- New York Times
From 1949, and would last until 1987— Taiwan was subject to the longest imposition of martial law than anywhere in the world. Secret police and informants were everywhere. Arbitrary imprisonment and torture were common. The era of political repression came to be known as the White Terror in Taiwan.
During the White Terror period, tens of thousands of underground political activities member were imprisoned, and around a thousand were executed for espionage. Hundreds of these political victims wrote farewell letters to their families before their executions, but these letters were locked away by the regime and languished in dusty archives for decades. Today, thirty years after the end of martial law, the wounds inflicted by the authoritarian regime remain unhealed. In 2007, frustrated by the lack of government investigative or reconciliation initiatives, activists of transformative justice established the Taiwan Association for Truth and Reconciliation (TATR).
Seeing these last words as an important part of Taiwan’s national legacy, the TATR invited six prominent Taiwanese from different backgrounds to tell the stories behind the farewell letters. These authors seamlessly wove historical artifacts and interviews with their own unique narrative styles. Their stories appeal to readers to consider the victims within the context of the turbulent and uncertain times in which they lived, and of Taiwan’s remarkable transition from ruthless dictatorship to vibrant democracy. The victims’ stories, vividly brought to life by their own last farewells and the six authors’ compelling words, lead us to reflect on society’s collective silence about violence. The experiences of the White Terror victims and their families—and the social response to their victimhood—are all too relevant to our own lives in these modern times.
- SOURCE MATERIALS: The authors were able to interview the living relatives for the most accurate recounting of the family’s experiences. The authors had the help of TATR and historian to lend their expertise to contextualizing the story.
- PHOTOS: dozens of personal photos from the victims and their family, the images for the last words or correspondences for each victim in the book.
- ENGLISH MEDIA EXPOSURE: The last words stories have been interviewed and reported by New York Times, BBC, and South China Morning Post.
- AWARDS: 2016 Golden Tripod Awards/ 2016 Taipei Book Fair Award/ 2015 China Times Open Book Award.
Titles with Similar Theme:
Secondhand Time by Svetlana Alexievich (Random House, US)
Green Island by Shawna Yang Ryan (Knof, US)
The Third Son by Julie Wu (Algonquin Books, US)
McCarthyism, The Great American Red Scare by Albert Fried (Oxford University Press, UK)
Age of McCarthyism: A Brief History With Documents by Ellen W. Schrecker (Palgrave Macmillan, US)
Mail Call: The Wartime Correspondence of an American Couple 1943-1945 by Terri Halbreich David (Full Court Press, US)
Lin, Chuan-Kai is one of the historical researchers who devoted himself in White Terror history for over eight years.
Lin, I-Cheng, studying Phd in Department of History of National Taiwan University, writes for several Taiwan medias, such as Pots Weekly, Funscreen…etc.
Hu, Shuwen was a journalist, editor, and a committed feminist, graduated from the Department of Foreign Languages and literatures of National Taiwan University. She is now a full-time writer and the author of two short stories published in Taiwan.
Yang, Mei-Hung was a journalist and editor. Her writing includes fiction, prose, poetry, reports and literary reviews. She is the author of a short stories collection and a literary essay.
Ló, Yùchīa, poet and financial journalist, is the author of four poetries and two literary essays. His works can be seen in several newspapers in Taiwan.
Chen, Zong-Yan, studying Medicine and Sociology of National Taiwan University, is the column writer for Independent Opinion@CommonWealth Magazine. His works were included in two anthologies about sociology and social issues.