Reconstructing modernist fiction from 1970s Taiwan as a critical realism, this essay proposes that the historical creation of two Chinas (the Republic of China on Taiwan and the People’s Republic of China) provided a formative stage for vibrant literary ruminations on the dissonance between women’s subjectivities and rapid economic modernization. Time and again, characters from this body of literature ask what it means to be part of a spatially and temporally fragmented world as they embody and engage capitalism’s social contradictions. Instead of signifying a coherent nation, location, or people, “China” in this peripheral realism represents the experiential schism between cultural identity and global commodification. Reading Xiao Sa’s novel Song of Dreams as a narrative about the social life of commodities in this context, Liu explores realism’s capacity for diagnosing the transformation of human sociality and connectedness under intense economic modernization.

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