Hong Kong Book Fair 2019: 10 Hong Kong Authors To Read This Summer
It's a little known fact that Hong Kong is something of a literature haven. While most of the city's wordsmiths work in Chinese, Hong Kong is home to a number of acclaimed English writers, too.
Peruse one of their novels, or short story or poetry collections, this summer
1/10 Habit of A Foreign Sky by Xu Xi
A household name when it comes to Hong Kong literature, Xu Xi is an Indonesian Chinese writer who got her writing and poetry MFA in the US.
Her novel Habit of a Foreign Sky, which was shortlisted for the Man Asian Literary Prize, tells the story of Gail Szeto, a career woman based between Hong Kong, New York, and Shanghai whose life is thrown into upheaval after a series of family tragedies.
2/10 Gweilo: Memories Of A Hong Kong Childhood by Martin Booth
British poet and novelist Martin Booth published a number of successful volumes, many of which relate to British imperialism in Asia; the movie The American was based on his book A Very Private Gentleman.
Gweilo is his memoir of having grown up in colonial Hong Kong in the 1950s, where he eagerly explored every corner of the city, encountering colourful characters from weathered coolies and Kowloon Walled City crime moguls along the way.
3/10 Hula Hooping by Tammy Ho Lai-ming
Editor and academic Tammy Ho Lai-ming founded the first Hong Kong online literary magazine Cha: An Asian Literary Journal and is an associate professor of poetry, fiction and drama at Baptist University. Hula Hooping is her first poetry collection.
The cumulation of 15 years of work, her poems span the personal to the political; award-winning poet Shirley Lim Geok-lin has described the book as exemplifying the "unapologetically socially engaged voice of an emergent generation".
4/10 Chan Ho-kei: The Borrowed
Crime writer Chan Ho-kei has written over 10 novels, some of which have won him awards such as the Mystery Writers of Taiwan Award and the Soji Shimada Mystery Award.
The Borrowed is a novel that follows the 50-year-long career of detective Kwan Chun-dok, whose cases are connected to pivotal moments in Hong Kong's history, from the 1960s to the present, including the Leftist Riot, the Tiananmen Square Massacre, and the Handover.
5/10 Cantonese Love Stories by Dung Kai-cheung
While award-winning writer Dung Kai-cheung's novels and short stories are primarily in Chinese, a number of his works have been translated into English—including Cantonese Love Stories, a collection of 25 snappy, imaginative vignettes about Hong Kong in the 1990s.
The book is part of Penguin Specials: The Hong Kong Series, a compilation of fiction as well as political and social commentary about the city. Dung is also a journalist, essayist, and lecturer at the Chinese University of Hong Kong.
See also: 10 Stunning Coffee Table Books For Art Lovers
6/10 Incense Tree by Louise Ho
A leading poet in Hong Kong, Louise Ho has been writing for almost 40 years. Although she writes primarily in English—which she often uses to playful effect—she's known for incorporating Cantonese words or expressions in her poetry, too.
Incense Tree is her most recent collection, which reflects on Hong Kong, its people, and the many trials and triumphs they experience—all presented with Ho's signature wit and observational prowess.
7/10 Hong Kong Highs And Lows by Hong Kong Writers Circle
A mainstay on Hong Kong's literary scene for the past 25 years, the Hong Kong Writers Circle offers critique groups, workshops, and networking events. It also publishes an annual anthology of work by its members, with submissions required to be about Hong Kong in some way.
The 2018 edition is Hong Kong Highs And Lows, which explores the disparities in Hong Kong life, taking the reader from resplendent abodes on the Peak to dilapidated cage homes.
8/10 The Monkey King by Timothy Mo
Novelist Timothy Mo—who was born to a British mother and Hong Kong father, and lived in Hong Kong as a child—has received a number of awards for his works, including being thrice shortlisted for the Booker Prize for Fiction.
His debut novel, family saga The Monkey King, follows Wallace Nolasco through his marriage of convenience into a Chinese family in post-war Hong Kong—only to find himself in dire financial and social straits after being denied his dowry.
9/10 Fragrant Harbour by John Lanchester
Born in Germany and raised in Hong Kong, British journalist and novelist John Lanchester has penned a number of novels, non-fiction and journalistic pieces, as well as a memoir.
His novel Fragrant Harbour follows four Hong Kong residents, all from different walks of life, as their stories take them from the Japanese occupation of the 1930s to the handover.
10/10 The House On Horse Mountain by Jason Li
Cartoonist and designer Jason Li's artworks have popped up in the Victoria and Albert Museum, the Asian Art Museum, and the BBC; he's also the creator of social advocacy webcomic Add Oil Comics.
His graphic novel The House On Horse Mountain features five vignettes about a girl named Ann who grew up in the hillside shantytowns of Tai Hang in the 1960s—vignettes based off of stories Li's mother told him when he was growing up.
See also: Neighbourhood Guide: 11 Spots You Should Know In Tai Hang