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September 21, 2017

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Chen's own story deserves retelling

Lucy Chen has just been announced as one of the recipients of the 15th National Awards for Literature and Arts. As a matter of fact, recognition and prizes are no great surprises to the 73-year-old novelist, who began to gain fame over half a century ago when she, along with several of her classmates at the Department of Foreign Languages and Literature, National Taiwan University, launched "Modern Literature" monthly, to promote creative writing in Taiwan.

However, what distinguishes Lucy from her contemporary writers is her unique strain of patriotism, selflessness, modesty and humanitarianism, which prompts a major local newspaper to describe her as a "model for literary writers."

A native of Taiwan with a humble family background, Lucy worked hard to tap her own talent so that she was able to receive excellent formal education at home and abroad. Out of a sense of ardent patriotism to do something for her distressed compatriots in China, she and her husband went to mainland China from the United States during the violent Cultural Revolution (1966-76).

But, after seeing with her own eyes the gamut of Communist oppressive and inhuman activities, she made another important decision to flee the mainland with her family to seek freedom in Hong Kong where she started writing a series of stirring articles and stories exposing and publicizing Beijing's tyrannical rule worldwide. "What's on my mind was those kindhearted friends on the mainland," Lucy recalled the motive behind her storytelling. "I feel I have the obligation to air their grievances for them."

In 1995, Lucy returned to Taiwan from the U.S., despite her husband's objection, intending to devote the rest of her life to the people and the land that have nurtured her and offered her freedom and democracy which she cherishes dearly.

These years in Taiwan, besides completing several novels and her autobiography, she has spent much of her time writing articles and commentaries, never hesitating to express her views openly and unequivocally about religion, ecology, care for the underprivileged and gender equality. She once played a critical role in helping the advocates of the Taiwan independence movement, but in recent years, she has tried to stay out of politics as much as possible.

Although in retirement, Lucy enjoys robust health, always being hospitable and busy traveling, writing, attending meetings, speaking out on significant issues and, most important of all, always ready to lend a hand to the needy. She has no fixed incomes and owns no houses. But, she never worries about her own wellbeing nor does she forget to make regular donations for charity purposes.

To sum up, Lucy's lofty character, as exemplified by her patriotic spirit, uprightness, courage and humanitarian concerns, makes her a towering public figure to be emulated, in addition to being an accomplished author. It is only natural hat she should be held up as a "model" for all local citizens.

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