Hong Kong is one of the most iconic cities in the world, and its storied history has seen it through challenging transitions. Its link to Britain and China is inexorable, but its own rich and unique culture is extremely strong. Boasting a shadowy urban landscape that gave birth to a host of great artists, from filmmaker Wong Kar-wai to writer Eunice Lam, Hong Kong brims with stories and the kind of cultural oddities you could only find in a place with such a complex socioeconomic history.
You won’t be surprised to hear then that there are a number of fascinating reads written about and set in our city. Chloe Bennet, a book blogger and journalist at Essayroo and Essay Services who writes about economics and pollution, as well as teach grammar over at Essay Writing Service portal, dives into some of the best books about Hong Kong.
Photo courtesy of Blacksmith Books
Hong Kong Noir by Feng Chi-shun
Feng Chi-shun’s novel Hong Kong Noir is essentially a series of stories, each of them based on tales he came across as he spent time working in one of the poorest districts of Hong Kong. “Feng spent his most formative years living in Diamond Hill, an area of Kowloon that gave him a rich variety of stories to help him form this fascinating novel,” explains Charles Lewis, book blogger at State of Writing and Academized. This is a book that truly speaks to the amazing variety of life in Hong Kong—well worth a read.
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The Piano Teacher by Y.K. Lee
Y.K. Lee’s novel The Piano Teacher is a historical fiction of sorts, a focused and intelligent personal drama, coloured by its setting in the extraordinary city of Hong Kong. The author tells the tale of an English woman who moved to Hong Kong to be with her husband. She begins work as a piano teacher for a rich couple in the city, and explores all that it has to offer, as well as the varied individuals she comes across in her daily life.
“Y.K. Lee has an amazing perspective as a writer. She is both an insider and an outsider, born in Hong Kong but to Korean immigrant parents and then educated in the United States. Her unique perspective helps to guide the audience through the intense and intoxicating world she creates,” says Janice Faber, writer at Australian Help and Big Assignments.
Read more! Can you name all of these traditional Hong Kong pastries?
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The Last Governor by Jonathan Dimbleby
This is an extraordinary non-fiction book by esteemed writer and filmmaker Jonathan Dimbleby. In The Last Governor, Dimbleby chronicles the final five years of British colonial rule over Hong Kong, ending with the handover to China in July of 1997. The final years of Britain’s status as a colonial power are explored in great detail and intimacy by Dimbleby as he follows Chris Patten, the final British Governor of Hong Kong, through this period of historical and societal change. The insights he captures make the book worth a read alone, not to mention his own excellent ability as a writer of history.
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We Shall Suffer There by Tony Banham
Tony Banham gives us an amazing and harrowing look at the lives of Hong Kong’s prisoners of war and internees at the hands of the Japanese during the period of 1942–1945. We Shall Suffer There is a first-of-its-kind read and Banham is as thorough as he can possibly be, dragging through every source he can lay his hands on. With such sources of information being few and far between, Banham does a remarkable job painting a full picture of the horrors of WWII in our corner of the world.
Read more! How many of these nostalgic Hong Kong sweets have you tried?
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Myself A Mandarin: Memoirs Of A Special Magistrate by Austin Coates
Austin Coates, a British ex-civil servant, recounts his unexpected posting as a magistrate in a district in Hong Kong. Having had no experience in this part of the world, Coates finds himself struggling to do all that he can to avoid letting things around him get out of control. Myself a Mandarin chronicles the bizarre and wonderful cases that crossed his desk as magistrate. With a witty writer at the helm, the book never fails to entertain.
Read more! Explore more books set in Hong Kong on Localiiz.