22. ilb 07. - 17.09.2022

Tao Lin

Portrait Tao Lin
© Hartwig Klappert

Tao Lin was born 1983 to Taiwanese parents in Alexandria, Virginia. After receiving a bachelor’s degree in journalism at New York University, he first came to prominence with the blog »Reader of Depressing Books« and his debut novel »Eeeee Eee Eeee« (2007), along with the book of short stories »Bed« (2007) which appeared at the same time. This was followed by the poetry collections »you are a little bit happier than i am« (2006) and »cognitive-behavioral therapy« (2008) as well as the novella »Shoplifting from American Apparel« (2009). Lin’s minimalistic prose, as much celebrated as criticised for its persistent pop cultural references, provides a minutely detailed depiction of an increasingly media-saturated existence. His second novel »Richard Yates« (2010) presents itself as a relationship drama disguised as an enigmatic, meta-fictional game of deception. With a strong autobiographical influence, »Taipei« (2013) depicts a young New York writer’s journey to maturation over the course of his travels (to the titular metropolis, among other locations). The characters’ perception, altered with a wide range of intoxicants, is echoed by the narrator’s voice, which registers fleeting fragments of thought and minimal gestures. All the while verbal confusion attests to drug-induced memory lapses. Lin captures the idiosyncrasies of contemporary diction with dialogue passages reproduced as chat and email transcripts, or messages on Facebook, Twitter and blogs. Despite a high level of aptitude in the use of social media, the protagonists’ urban explorations are paradoxically characterised by a mute numbness and alienation. In scenes with the savour of lived experience, Lin exposes the ironic habitus of his self-referential characters, showing how his fictional alter ego grows during a relationship gone wrong.

Lin’s essays, short stories and articles have appeared in such publications as »Vice«, »Granta«, »The Believer«, »The New York Observer« as well as the online magazine »Thought Catalog« and the blog »Gawker«. In 2008 he established the independent publisher Muumuu House which specialises in the publication of pre-existing (hyper-) texts. He is also, along with the author Megan Boyle, co-founder of MDMAfilms, a platform for no-budget films, recorded exclusively on webcam and shown online. Along with readings and lectures (at Vassar College, Yale University, Kansas City Art Institute, Museum of Modern Arts, etc.) he also teaches at Sarah Lawrence College. Lin lives in New York.