January 20, 2009

First Chinese book of year: Virgo Doctors are Like This

Following up on my last post about reading more Chinese books this year, my first Chinese book for the year is a collection of essays about being a doctor, written by Dr. Ou Wenlin, whose pen name is Ou Yanglin (歐陽林)**. This is the 20th volume of his series of essay collections. In addition to being a doctor, he has managed to write 34 books.

The title of this book is "Virgo Doctors are Like This" (處女座的醫生是這樣的), and as the title hints, it a mostly light-hearted collection of essays. In one story, he tells how he was extorted by a gang member who was selling pens. The extorter says that he is selling a pen for NT$1000, and that if the doctor buys the pen, he would appreciate it so much that his many fellow gang members are sure to help him out when he is need. He never even mentions what happens if you don't buy the pen. In another story, Dr. Ou tells how he tried to go to a "folk song restaurant" (民歌餐廳). Strangely, his purpose in seeking the restaurant was to listen to pop songs from the eighties, so I think the title of "folk song restaurant" is not very fitting. He also describes how he became a hit with his clinic patients by giving out rub-on tattoos.

In a more serious series of essays, Dr. Ou recalls the SARS outbreak in Taiwan in 2003. He describes the atmosphere of fear and distrust. He recalls one patient, a grandfather, who came for a health check at the hospital despite having no symptoms because his son wouldn't let him see his grandchildren after the grandfather returned from a trip to China. He also describes how many people were quarantined, people who came into contact with someone else who came in contact with someone who was suspected of having SARS.

The book is only 215 pages, and like a lot of popular books in Taiwan, there is a low average word count per page, so it is a fast read. It is also easy reading for someone like me who is not a native reader of Chinese. This is the second or third book by Dr. Ou that I've read. Reading it, I get the strange feeling that I know Chinese. (A feeling that can be dispelled by reading something more challenging.)

The library I got this book from has 21 books by the doctor, of which ten are currently checked out, so they are evidently popular.

**Ouyang is a surname, so it looks like his name should be Ouyang Lin, but in the book people call him "Dr. Ou", so I guess the name is Ou Yanglin.



  • I found a blog via a Google search on Sakura Momoko and I've found you're reviews on Momoko essay books very interesting.

    Did you know that she is currently writing a sequel for Chibi Maruko-chan? With Maruko as a teenager? It's called HITORIZUMOU and is published in SPIRITS, a seinen magazine from Shogakukan.

    Unfortunately, I can't read Japanese but if you come across this manga someday let us know what you thought about it ^^

    By Anonymous André, at January 25, 2009 9:15 PM  

  • That sounds interesting. I'll keep an eye open for it. Thanks, Andre.

    By Blogger Taiwanonymous, at January 30, 2009 10:18 PM  

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