Tao Lin on 'Taipei': The Moola Files


NEW YORK (MainStreet)—Tao Lin is a decidedly hip novelist who writes in the idiom of the Internet and occasionally punctuates his prose with hashtags. He's also the poster child for using the power of technology to scrape by financially: despite his identity as the modern day starving artist, he's gotten into enough business capers to stay solvent. Among other schemes, he announced in 2008 that he would hold an IPO to sell off 60% of the U.S. royalties for his book Richard Yates--six 10% stakes at $2,000 each. Yet the $12,000 in "IPO" money and royalty checks netting him $4,000 to $6,000 every six months weren't enough to live on in New York City.

Now in a sense, Lin has arrived, securing a $50,000 advance from Vintage for his third novel, Taipei, which has today as its publishing date. That hasn't necessarily improved his economic standing: he still sells novel manuscripts and drawings on eBay, and there have even been allegations that he has sold videos of himself high on ecstasy to make ends meet. Below, find today's version of the artist entrepreneur, who takes loans from strangers on Twitter and writes sentimentally, with tinges of irony, about how his newest protagonist, Paul (a stand in for Lin), excavates the literary and art scenes in Manhattan and his family's roots in Taipei.

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