TAIWANfest Letterhead - Bookstore
TAIWANfest Letterhead - Bookstore

Tonsan Bookstore


Different Generations, Different Definitions of Left Wing Politics

This bookstore had escaped the martial law and censorship period.
It has witnessed the blossoming from the Wild Lilies movement. 
It has seen the young enthusiasm stemming from the Sunflower movement.
It stands at the corner with a sign of “No Right Turn”.
It has lived through the dramas of the Umbrella Movement and the Anti-extradition Law protests.

Its steadiness and calmness continue to challenge Taiwanese thinking.

An Independent Bookstore That Has Survived Through Political Turmoil Over 38 Years

Passing through the campus, students were getting out of class and looking forward to their weekend.
Walking down the stairs next to the wall full of student-club posters,
One side is the Lennon Wall supporting Hong Kong,
The other side of the hallway is a poster for Chinese propaganda,
And then you step on worn-out tiles
Entering into the basement filled with stacks of books.
The interlinear dimension seems to be the true portrayal of freedom.

On the wall, a picture of Karl Marx hangs,
At the till, there is a sticker that says: “Hakka Spoken Here”
The intern handcrafted the stamps of Marx and placed them by the till,
Reluctant to express their minds. It seems like the underground era has returned.

The hanging fan spins lazily,
and the music of The Village Armed Youth Band is being played
Cardboard boxes stacked and filled the store.

Shelves of books have all kinds of thoughts and philosophies on display 
The calm appearance of these bookworms disguises their typhoon-like minds.

Searching for Thoughts Amidst the Era of Censored Thoughts

Chaos is a camouflage.
Thinking amid the chaos is freeing but painful.
Searching in the disturbance is a test of wills.
What one learns from the chaos,
perhaps forges an ultimate belief.

History and politics
are part of society’s complicated growth.
It is a way to shape our shared identity
to form our core values and ideals,
and to understand the value of progress.

The True Colour of Hakka: The Hakka People Are The True Survivors

The owner, Mr. Lung Hao Chen
is indisputibly Hakka.
We can see from his gentle and friendly verbal and body language
and from his passion for Hakka studies,
that the way in which Hakka ancestors
faced challenges
showed their strength, persistence 
and ability to cope with the tides of times.

Tonsan spirit exemplifies Hakka spirit and wisdom.
Living through Taiwan’s most unsettling periods,
finding their ways to survive 
and thrive in a distinct Hakka way within the Taiwanese society. 

The Vitality Born in A Democratic Environment

From its appearance, it looks pretty common and informal,
However, loyal customers return for a treasure hunt.
These books bring people back in time,
and condense the diversity in Taiwan.
Here both Traditional and Simplified Chinese books are welcome
You can also find books on literature and tourism,
You can find studies on Han culture and Southeast Asian cultures.
Different voices are allowed to share this same space.
Together they weave a net that is soft, flexible and strong,
The needle and thread are just about survival,
Together, they all were woven into Taiwan’s cultural landscape.

Without any fancy or luxurious decorations,
underneath, in the dimly-lit basement, we present to you a sea of knowledge.

Here we are: Tang Shan Bookstore.

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Taiwan’s Bookstore – The Survived
Generation Chapter: Taiwanese’ Strength and Gentleness

Passing by a group of frolicking students, we stepped into a street corner, and descended a staircase covered with club posters. Here, the sense of time and space are intertwined. In the hallway towards the underground bookstore, a stretch of the Lennon Wall mirrored posters of the China Travel Fair, where in between them was the checkered floor.

Inside, a small note that reads “We Speak Hakka” on the counter reveals the identity of Mr. Chen Lung-hao, the owner of the bookstore.We can see from his gentle demeanor and from his passion for Hakka studies, that the way in which Hakka ancestors faced challenges showed their strength, persistence,  and ability to cope with the tides of times. Tang Shan spirit exemplifies Hakka spirit and wisdom. 

The bookstore may seem casual and ordinary at first glance, but it is indeed a secret treasure hunting spot for book lovers. The books create a unique sense of time flow, highlighting the diversity of Taiwanese humanism which allows different voices to coexist under the same roof. The voices have weaved a soft, flexible, yet solid net, where every thread is an attempt to survive.

At dusk, we walked up the stairs and past a few young people who were heading to the bookstore. Will they be the ones to start the next era?

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