Kao Yi-feng: Contemporary Hakka Novelist

Kao Yi-feng: Contemporary Hakka Novelist
(Image: Hakka TV)

Chinese Name: 高翊峰
Born: 1973
Birthplace: Miaoli County (Northern Taiwan)

Kao Yi-feng, born in 1973 in Toufen Township, Miaoli County, is a Taiwanese Hakka novelist. Kao graduated from the law department of Chinese Culture University but instead of becoming a lawyer got involved in all kinds of different work. He has been a bartender, a dancer, a screenwriter, a director, a TV host and a radio presenter. In addition, Kao has edited fashion magazines including FHM, Cosmopolitan, GQ and MAXIM.

With his multiple identities, Kao’s past life experiences make up a cocktail of rich flavors. He continues to dabble in new things and takes on the challenge of new creations of various forms, in so doing proving his own words that a novelist is a field investigator of his own life.

Kao’s works include novels, prose and scripts, but he is best known for his three lengthy science fiction novels on different themes: “Imaginary Ship (幻艙)”, “War of the Bubbles (泡沫戰爭)” and “2069.”

In 2011, Kao published his first full novel, “Imaginary Ship.” For unknown reasons, the book’s protagonist has been sent to an emergency shelter in a sewer. The shelter has a group of people with the same experience, all relying on a regular food supply and who live aimlessly. Kao focuses on the psychological changes that each character trapped in the shelter undergoes. They are trapped in a place where space and time stand still, there is no way to go forward or back and nothing means anything. The sense of time and space disappearing tells of people’s sense of existence in their own and other people’s lives.

Viewed as a modern version of “Lord of the Flies,” Kao’s “War of the Bubbles” came out in 2014. The story tells of a remote mountain village where a group of children, having seen the inability of the adults to resolve a water shortage problem, rise up and take over, overturning traditional social rules. A French translation by Gwennaël Gaffric was published in 2017.

“2069” is Kao’s most recent science fiction novel, published in 2019. The story is set 50 years in the future, in an age when human brains have been replaced by electronic brains and memories have likewise become electronic information, where people gradually replace their aging organs and implant all kinds of artificial organs so that the body continues to “live on,” becoming new humans with electronic brains and obtaining close to everlasting life.

In an interview, Kao Yi-feng has said he hopes that his creative works may become classics that stand the test of time, such as “One Hundred Years of Solitude” by Gabriel Garcia Marquez or F. Scott Fitzgerald’s “The Great Gatsby,” works whose value comes from their epochal significance.