Wu Ming-Yi was born in Taoyuan, Taiwan, in 1971. He studied media studies in New Taipei and earned a doctorate in Chinese literature. Since his novel debut in 1997, he has established himself in his home country as one of the most important writers of his generation. He has published numerous novels, collections of stories, and writings on literary theory and is also known for his work as an environmental activist.
His international breakthrough was triggered by »The Man with the Compound Eyes« . The teenager Atile’i belongs to the Wayo Wayo, a community that lives on a small island, shielded from the outside world. Due to a shortage of resources, he is forced, like all the second sons, to go out to sea in a boat to die. When his boat sinks, he manages to save himself on an island; as it turns out, it is a huge garbage pile. Meanwhile, in the Taiwanese coastal town of Haven, academic and writer Alice has sunk into a deep depression. Her husband has died, and her son has disappeared under mysterious circumstances. When part of the rubbish island breaks loose and hits the coast, Alice’s house is destroyed – and she meets Atile’i. The story of Alice and Atile’i is, however, only part of a multi-layered world in which nature comes to life in different guises and the reader finally makes the acquaintance of the titular man with the compound eyes. His ability to take on several perspectives corresponds to the mosaic-like structure of the novel, which combines fantasy with realism and has often been read as an ecological parable. The »Guardian« stated that »There may be walking trees, miraculous butterflies and deer that morph into goats, but this is a novel anchored in the gritty mess of what it means to remember and to exist as an individual.«
Wu Ming-Yi was longlisted for the 2018 Man Booker International Prize for »The Stolen Bicycle« , in which writer Cheng sets out to find his father’s stolen bicycle, which disappeared twenty years earlier. The search takes Cheng on a mysterious journey where stories intersect: The Japanese military during World War II, Lin Wang, the oldest elephant that ever lived, and the secret world of antique bicycle collectors in Taiwan all play a role.
Since 2000, Wu Ming-Yi has taught Chinese literature and creative writing at National Dong Hwa University. He lives in Taipei.