Author Abigail Hing Wen joins NüVoices to discuss her NYT best selling YA novel, Loveboat, Taipei and its film adaptation Love in Taipei, based on the summer study tour that started more than half a century ago.
For the price of a plane ticket and about $400, diaspora students between 18 and 23 from the U.S., Canada, and elsewhere participated in the government-subsidized, six-week language and cultural summer program. At its peak during the 1990s, some 1,000 students descended onto Taiwan every summer to have fun, escape from parents, and connect with their roots. Nicknamed after the 1970s/80s American TV show for the lasting relationships that developed, attendees found deep and lasting bonds. (For longtime listeners of the podcast, past guests Arlene Chan and Jan Wong attended Love Boat trips back in the program’s heyday.)
There are other cultural study opportunities and programs for youths and young adults today, but the “Love Boat” as many knew it shrank and changed considerably over the last two decades along with the changing political tides in Taiwan.
In this episode, Abigail discusses the program and its history, her own experiences with the tour, the legendary stories and escapades that sprang from the students’ experiences, and what it was like to make a film adaptation for a new generation of diaspora youth.
Abigail Hing Wen works at the intersection of storytelling and technology. She penned the New York Times bestselling novel Loveboat, Taipei and companion novels, Loveboat Reunion and Loveboat Forever. Loveboat, Taipei was her first published novel after ten years of writing by night and working by day with a successful career in law, venture capital and artificial intelligence. She executive produced the film adaptation of Love in Taipei starring Ashley Liao and Ross Butler. She also writes and speaks about tech, AI ethics, women’s leadership, implicit bias, equity, and transforming culture. Abigail holds a BA from Harvard, a JD from Columbia, and an MFA in writing from Vermont College of Fine Arts. She lives with her husband and two children in the San Francisco Bay Area.
Solarina Ho is a freelance reporter and writer with more than 15 years of journalism experience, most of which was spent at Reuters. She currently writes on a broad range of health, general, and business news for various publications and organizations, with a particular focus on COVID-19. Her personal areas of interest include topics related to China, women’s issues, media/journalism, immigration, the environment, space exploration, technology, and pop culture (with a particular weakness for Asian dramas).