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Book Review: Collected Hong Kong Stories – love, shattered dreams and pursuit of wealth in the vertical city

By Tessa Chan

Collected Hong Kong Stories

by David T.K. Wong

Blacksmith Books

4 stars

While most authors build a following in their home country before venturing abroad, Hong Kong’s limited outlets for literary fiction led to local author David T.K. Wong taking his work to the US, Europe and Southeast Asia before publishing them here.

Now, however, he brings us 30 years worth of his short stories in one book, a rich and complex portrait of Hong Kong told through the lens of its varied inhabitants, their relationships with the city and each other.

Drawing on his own broad experience and knowledge – he studied political science and journalism, worked as a journalist, educator and government official – Wong conjures characters from all levels of society, from wealthy businessmen to migrant workers. He takes us on a vivid tour through Hong Kong’s back alleys, and abroad, whether to London’s Embankment or the traditional tea houses of Kyoto, Japan. Read more

Source: South China Morning Post


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2017 set to be landmark year for Chinese poetry

By Wen Zongduo/Li Wenfang

Many Chinese poets say that this year will be special for them, a view echoed by Wang Guoqin, a poet and critic who said “poetry is the light ahead in the dark tunnel of my life”, after receiving the Creation Award of the Year at the Third Spring Festival Poetry Gala for his book Talking About Poetry From Zhishi Studio.

The gala in Beijing organized over Jan 13-14 by the Qu Yuan Society of China brought together poetry enthusiasts from Beijing, Xi’an, Nanjing, Kaifeng and Shenyang.

Coincidentally, just over 100 years ago, Chinese poetry underwent a drastic change with poetry collections being published in new styles, free in rhythm and lines, com-pared with traditional verses often preset with tones, rhymes and the numbers of characters.

But questions still abound a century later.

At an event in Zhongshan, Guangdong province, on Jan 8 in the presence of guests from the province, Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan, Qiu Shuhong, whose latest honor is the World Chinese Poetry Award’s gold prize, proposed that 2017 be made the Year of Chinese Poetry to celebrate the birth of “new poems”. Read more

Source: China Daily


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Have you written a children’s story inspired by Asia?

The Scholastic Asian Book Award (Saba) is a joint initiative between the National Book Development Council of Singapore and publishers Scholastic Asia that “will recognise children’s writers of Asian origin who are taking the experiences of life, spirit, and thinking in different parts of Asia to the world at large”.

Since its inception in 2011, the biennial award has been responsible for publishing English language works by authors from all over Asia, including India, Hong Kong, and Singapore.

The best manuscript wins S$10,000 (RM31,000) and will be considered by Scholastic Asia for publication; the authors of the first and second runners-up manuscripts will be offered advice by Scholastic Asia on editing and submitting their works for publication. Read more

Source: Star2.com


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The top 10 Asian books of 2016, from vivid science fiction to Japanese crime, Vietnam war memories and today’s China

Former Hong Kong academic Madeleine Thien’s Booker shortlisted family saga, Hideo Yokoyama’s gripping tale of corruption in Japan and Mei Fong’s searing history of China’s one-child policy among our picks

By James Kidd

It was a vintage year for literature – particularly in Asia. South China Morning Post book critic James Kidd lists his top 10 books of the year by Asian writers, or about Asia itself.

Do Not Say We Have Nothing by Madeleine Thien

Six decades of Chinese history are dramatised through music and politics, family and friendship, love and loss. Shortlisted for the Man Booker prize, here is one of the books of the year, by a former Hong Kong academic. Read more

Source: South China Morning Post


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Book Review: Genghis Khan and the Quest for God: How the World’s Greatest Conqueror Gave Us Religious Freedom by Jack Weatherford

By Simon Winchester

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Thirty-one years ago, while on a railway journey between London and Hong Kong, I stopped off in Mongolia and to a briefly illustrative encounter.

At the time the British had the sole Western embassy in Ulan Bator — at 30 Peace Street, if I remember — and I thought I might interview the ambassador and present him, as it was early December and he was said to cut a lonesome and homesick figure, with a Christmas plum pudding. I rang the mission’s doorbell and must have looked faintly taken aback when it was opened by a young man of evidently Caribbean origin.

“Don’t be startled,” he said cheerfully, in a broad Welsh accent. “I’m Trevor Jones, first secretary. From Cardiff. I think I’m the only black man in the diplomatic service, and look see, they pack me off to bloody Ulan Bator!”

Back in 1985 that set the tone. Mongolia. Utterly out there. Grass. Ponies. Wrestling. Forgotten. Of no importance. Genghis Khan maybe. A brute. Otherwise, a place consigned to geographical oblivion in the minds of most. Read more

Source: The New York Times


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If China Meant to Chill Hong Kong Speech, Booksellers’ Case Did the Job

The metal door of Causeway Bay Bookstore is locked, just as it was month after month after the disappearances last year of five Hong Kong booksellers. The five men had tended the shop and published many of the gossip-filled volumes on Chinese politics that lined its shelves.

Four of the booksellers, who all served months in detention in mainland China, have returned to Hong Kong. A fifth, the publisher and a Swedish citizen, remains in Chinese custody more than a year after he was spirited away from his home in Thailand.

The dramatic disappearances of the five men garnered headlines around the world and led to fears in Hong Kong that the city’s considerable autonomy, guaranteed by the treaty that led to its return by Britain to Chinese rule in 1997, had been gravely compromised. Read more


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Shakespeare’s First Folio comes to Sotheby’s Hong Kong to mark 400th anniversary

Eton College, the world-renowned independent British school, and Heywood Hill, the legendary London bookshop, recently announced a free public exhibition of Shakespeare’s First Folio at Sotheby’s in Hong Kong on October 26-29, 2016.

Eton College and Heywood Hill, quintessentially British institutions, have joined forces, with the support of the British Consulate and Sotheby’s, to provide the residents of Hong Kong a unique opportunity to see one of the greatest literary artifacts in the English-speaking world this year, the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death. Read more


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Hong Kong, Singapore writers festivals court controversy

The controversial American author Lionel Shriver is set to bookend two major literary festivals in Hong Kong and Singapore, both running from November 4-13.

She will open the Hong Kong International Literary Festival with a talk about The Mandibles (2016), a darkly satiric novel, set in a near future in which Mexico builds a wall against a deeply indebted US that has been forced to rely on a currency controlled by China and Russia.

Her November 4 talk will be part of a fundraising dinner at The American Club. That will be followed two days later – which is two days before the US election – by a public Q&A at the Hong Kong Visual Arts Centre. With the possibility of a real-life Donald Trump presidency on the horizon, truth may be stranger than fiction. Read more


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Photo Feature: Kitaab launches T A Morton’s ‘Halfway Up A Hill–Stories from Hong Kong’ in Singapore

Singapore publisher Kitaab launched Denmark-based writer T A Morton’s debut collection of short stories, Halfway Up A Hill–Stories from Hong Kong, on Friday (19 February) at Books Actually in Singapore. Here are some images from the launch.

Copies of the book are available now at Books Actually, Singapore and will soon be available in all leading bookstores in Singapore, Malaysia and Hong Kong.

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In Halfway up a Hill, an array of characters from the eight distinctive short stories converge and interact in and around a busy Soho coffee shop in Hong Kong. In the air-conditioned confines of an unassuming coffee shop halfway up (or down, depending on your point of view) a steep Hong Kong hillside, a multitude of lives entwine, unravel and spin off, together and apart, all watched over and influenced by forces the people involved only vaguely apprehend—as well as observed by the benign spirits that occupy the shop bathroom. The collection of intriguing stories told in Halfway up a Hill both stimulate and beguile, like a sip of hot coffee on a cold day.

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T.A. Morton (holding her author’s copy at the launch) has worked as journalist and editor for Longman Pearson in Hong Kong. Returning to Europe she now resides in Copenhagen where she works as a freelance editor. She lives with her husband and daughter and is the proud godmother to a commercial ship, Tracey Kosan. Currently she is working towards her masters in Literature, and also on her third novel.

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Something for the tastebuds at the launch @ Books Actually

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T A Morton in conversation with her readers

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Novelist and poet Krishna Udayasankar was in conversation with the author, T. A. Morton.

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And the book is launched: (from left) T A Morton, author of Halfway Up a Hill; Zafar Anjum, publisher, Kitaab; Krishna Udayasankar, novelist and poet; and Helen Mangham, agent, Books@Jacaranda


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Literary seminars for 13th Hong Kong Biennial Awards for Chinese Literature to be held at Hong Kong Central Library

he Hong Kong Public Libraries of the Leisure and Cultural Services Department will hold five literary seminars for the 13th Hong Kong Biennial Awards for Chinese Literature at the Lecture Theatre of Hong Kong Central Library during August and September. This year’s adjudicators will conduct literary exchanges, themed on poetry, essays, literary criticism, children’s and youth literature, and fiction, with seminar participants to promote the appreciation and creation of various types of literary work. Continue reading