Living Without Fear

Joy Deng reviews Qiu Miaojin’s coming-of-age novel Notes of a Crocodile

Largely unknown in the US, Qiu Miaojin is one of the most famous lesbian writers in Taiwan. Told from the perspective of a young woman crossing what she calls “the comma that punctuated being twenty-two,” the story begins a few years earlier. It is October 1987, three months after almost four decades of martial law have just ended in Taiwan. Nicknamed ‘Lazi,’ the autofictional narrator enters college, where she falls in love with a classmate named Shui Ling: “She and some friends…walked past me, and I managed to glance at her… it was as if my whole life had flashed before my eyes.”