New Zealand is set to take centre-stage in Taipei as the designated Guest of Honour at the Taipei Book Fair, one of the biggest fairs of its kind in Asia. The honour will see 22 New Zealand authors, including Eleanor Catton, Witi Ihimaera and Joy Cowley, travel to Taipei for the event. Two New Zealand publishers, however, won’t be needing to pack their bags for the trip. Wellington publishers, the brothers Ron Hanson and Mark Hanson, have based their magazine White Fungus in Taiwan since 2009.
The Hansons, whose Taiwan roots actually stretch back to 2000, have become kind of unlikely celebrities in Taiwan with regular appearances in the mass media and a string of public events and talks behind them. Now the brothers will use their name recognition in Taiwan to boost the profile of New Zealand literature and art. As part of the county’s presence in Taipei, the Hansons have produced a New Zealand issue of their sister bilingual (Chinese and English) publication the Subconscious Restaurant. The publication will be released with a high profile sound art event at Taipei’s prestigious Huashan Creative Park featuring three New Zealand artists: Greg Malcolm, Jeff Henderson and Campbell Kneale.
White Fungus and Subconscious Restaurant editor Ron Hanson says they’re thrilled to introduce some of their favorite New Zealand musicians and write rs to their second home and stomping ground. “This project really ties together a lot of loose threads for us,” he says. “White Fungus is a global project but New Zealand and Taiwan are the two countries which are most central to what we’re doing. Now our New Zealand and Taiwan artistic communities are about to become united through this publication and event”.
The fourth issue of the Hansons’ Subconscious Restaurant comprises solely of New Zealand content. For the first time, some of the rich currents of New Zealand music and literature will be available for readers in Chinese. The publication includes the first three chapters of Vivienne Plumb’s new “long” short story “Forthcoming”, and an article by Murdoch Stephens explaining the origins of his project dealing with displaced refugees “Doing Our Bit” which was exhibited at Pataka and Waikato Museum. The issue includes a history of New Zealand DIY music by Bruce Russell, tracing a trajectory which encounters composers as distinctive and diverse as Douglas Lilburn and Chris Knox. Controversial Nelson conceptual artist Tao Wells writes about the founding of the nation. The issue contains an in-depth history article about Chew Chong, who immigrated from China to New Zealand in the 19th century and helped pioneer the Taranaki dairy industry.