Taiwanese Romance: San Mao and Qiong Yao

Publication year

These authors were not writing romances in the central romantic relationship/happy ending sense, as Lang points out:

In terms of productivity (sixty-one novels to date) and romantic subject matter (all of her novels have romantic relationships as their central focus), Qiong Yao has often been likened to Barbara Cartland; yet the scope of her work, issues underlying her stories, and various structural aspects of her novels differentiate her markedly from the queen of the English-language romance. The plot construction of Qiong Yao's novels does not necessarily follow the axiomatic "boy-meets-girl, obstacle arises, obstacle is overcome, couple are united" pattern that tends to prevail in English-language romantic fiction. "Obstacles" do arise (often on a large scale - wars, deaths, illnesses, and suicides), but they are generally significant elements in the plot rather than pretexts for delaying the expected romantic reunion. Indeed, romantic union does not always take place; many of Qiong Yao's novels conclude with the couple's being parted, either by death or by renouncing their relationship. (516)

San Mao (Chen Ping, 1943-1991) is often paired with Qiong Yao in terms of fame, popularity, and influence. [...] Her writing contains features of autobiography and travelogue, as well as romance, and takes short-story rather than novel form. Whereas Qiong Yao wrote romantic stories, it could be said that San Mao lived one, or narrated her life as one: she opted out of high school and was educated at home; traveled to Europe and Africa [...]; married a Spanish man (supposedly after he had waited faithfully for her for six years); was caught up in the drama of Spanish decolonization in the Western Sahara; was widowed after six years of marriage; returned to Taiwan a celebrity; and spread her philosophy of happiness, beauty, love, and human concern wherever she went.
San Mao consistently claimed that everything she wrote was based on her own life, and almost all of her stories are narrated in the first person by a character named "San Mao." (517)