Lettre Ulysses Award for the art of reportage

Lung Yingtai, China / Taiwan

“The people are readers who read between the lines, listeners who follow every whisper in the night, who count along how many times a particular name is mentioned in a report, and attentive, secretive scouts who sense when the time is right to take cover. That is the moment when an article might create shockwaves throughout a nation; when ordinary citizens disappear silently in the middle of the night, or become freedom fighters over night.”
Essayist, cultural critic, professor of literature. Daughter to a refugee family from China, Lung Yingtai was born in Taiwan in 1952. She studied English at National Cheng Kung University, went to the USA where she studied American Studies at Bowling Green State University, Ohio, and was awarded her PhD in English at Kansas State University in 1982.

Lung Yingtai’s critical writings were considered to have greatly contributed to the democratisation of Taiwan in the 1980’s and to the spread of her influence to greater China. Her writings are published simultaneously in 6 areas: Taiwan, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Singapore, China and the USA. Currently she is the only Taiwanese writer to have her own column in major newspapers in mainland China (Nanfang Zhoumo). Lung is considered one of the most influential writers in China, and her articles excite lively discussion on both sides of the Taiwan Strait. European newspapers have featured articles by Lung Yingtai since the nineties (including in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Der Tagesanzeiger, taz, and Dagens Nyheter).

Teaching positions lead her to Westchester, New York from 1979 until 1983, at the Mercy College Department of English. She was associate professor from 1983 until 1986 at the National Central University of Taiwan, and was Research Fellow between 1991 and 1999 at Heidelberg University’s Chinese Institute.

Lung Yingtai was the first cultural minister of Taipei (1999-2003). In this position, she launched a conservation project, which transformed many old, dilapidated buildings in Taipei into museums, artist villages and literature houses. Her endeavour of city planning incorporating cultural aspirations has become a much-quoted model in other Chinese metropolises.

Leaving the ministry of culture in 2003, Lung Yingtai became guest professor at Hong Kong University’s Journalism and Media Studies Center. She has accepted the post as chair professor of Arts and Humanities at Taiwan’s National Tsing Hua University beginning September 2005.

Lung Yingtai has published more than 15 books, which have not yet been translated from Chinese. Besides the novel Fallen in Love in Heidelberg (1995) and Take it Easy, My Children, a collection of short stories (1994), she has also published many anthologies of critical essays about culture and society. Her most important works are Wild Fire (1985), The Right to Be Beautiful (1994) and Critical Issues in our Century (1999).

Lung Yingtai speaks Chinese, English and German and currently lives in Hong Kong.

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"When a writer goes to a conflict, he is not part of the country, but he has a heart, he has humanity, vision, and then from Ramallah to Jamaica, he can describe the suffering of people."Gamal Al-Ghitany (jury member 2005 & 2006)