What to Read: Top 10 Books to Check Out at the Hong Kong Book Fair 2022
by: The Beat Asia
July 20, 2022
An annual Hong Kong summer event to delight everyone in the family, the Hong Kong Book Fair returns for it’s 32nd edition this year from July 20-26.
The theme of the year is “History and City Literature,” highlighting works that shine a light on sharing Hong Kong’s local history, culture, and architecture. Also on show are special artwork displays, with seminars featuring prolific local history writers as an added level of interaction. There is also the “Eight Seminar Series” where renowned international writers share their experiences and advice for the world of authorship. A full schedule of the talks and online registration are available here.
Aside from historical publications suited to the theme, there are tons of other titles that are worth adding to your wish list for the Book Fair! From anticipated summer releases to fascinating dives into local culture, here are our top 10 picks on what books to check out from the 2022 Hong Kong Book Fair.
1. ‘Landscapes Lost and Found: Appreciating Hong Kong’s Heritage Cultural Landscapes’ by Ken Nicolson
Weaving together the tapestry of Hong Kong’s landscapes and architectural heritage, this study into important sites and buildings throughout the city rallies for conservation. Piecing together local contexts that form the cultural landscape, the value behind historical landmarks is explained and shown with emphasis on the effects they retain today.
2. ‘Sir Robert Ho Tung: Public Figure, Private Man’ by May Holdsworth
All at once the first Chinese man to live on The Peak, a titleholder for both the Order of the Excellent Crop as well as a knighthood from King George V, the wealthiest man in Hong Kong during his living years, Sir Robert Ho Tung is a remarkable man whose influence is still felt in Hong Kong today. Examining the “Grand Old Man of Hong Kong,” this comprehensive biography unveils the different facets to Sir Ho Tung’s persona and uncovers his identity from its various dimensions.
3. ‘Wrong Place Wrong Time’ by Gillian McAllister
From bestselling British author Gillian McAllister comes a gripping and twisted account of a mother who witnesses her son commit a stabbing and must find a way to save him—from the day before. Grasping at the past to save the future, this crime thriller plays with the threads of time to deliver an engrossing tale that throws you headfirst into the drama.
Giving a glimpse into her process, Gillian will be hosting a talk on “How to get and stay published” on the first day of the fair at 4 PM. Stay tuned to the Book Depository Facebook page for more updates.
4. ‘The Cartographers’ by Peng Shepherd
A mind-bending thriller, the story follows a woman named Nell Young who discovers a map in her late father’s belongings that holds the key to an uncanny journey into her family’s unexpected past. Drawing upon themes of mystique in the realms of the arts, science, history, and even magic, this fantastical novel is at once imaginative and full of timeworn charm.
5. ‘Time is a Mother’ by Ocean Vuong
This sophomore poetry anthology from rising star Ocean Vuong dives into the grief surrounding his mother’s passing, and the resilience that grows out of it. Navigating this personal loss, as well as grappling with the issue of identity within the context of deep-seated national trauma as a Vietnamese-American, the works are all at once about grappling with anguish all whilst evolving from it.
6. ‘The Girl Who Fell Beneath the Sea' by Axie Oh, Illustrated by Kuri Huang
Vividly transforming timeworn mythologies into an exciting tale of adventure, this New York Times bestseller is enthralling and hard to put down. Drawing upon motifs from Korean folklore, the fantastical references to Sea God conjure up unique images that are still familiar in feel, perhaps thanks to echoes of Hong Kong’s own Tin Hau goddess.
7. ‘Shop Cats of Hong Kong’ by Marcel Heijnen
Oh, to be a shop cat...days would be spent eating, sleeping, and watching pedestrians and patrons who enter your habitat—typically a traditional dried goods store or a Chinese medicine pharmacy. A compilation of neighbourhood felines in all their glory, this photobook is one that intimately explores the secret world of shop cats.
8. ‘Upgrade’ by Blake Crouch
An eerie study into the potential pitfalls that come with taking the innate universal drive for constant improvement too far, this sci-fi thriller is one that just keeps punching. More so an anxious spiral than a meditative pondering, the tightly paced story follows a transformation that erodes the boundaries between tech and biology, the past and the future, the self and other.
9. ‘Cult Classic’ by Sloane Crosley
A fresh spin on the typical rom-com, the novel sardonically bites into the fear of running into ghosts of exes' past by multiplying and amplifying the scenario to an absurd degree. Recasting the haunting of past loves in a surrealistic light, the story follows protagonist Lola, who reckons with a barrage of past lovers resurfacing in less-than-coincidental ways just as she is about to get married.
10. ‘A Dictionary of Hong Kong English: Words from the Fragrant Harbour’ by Patrick J. Cummings and Hans-Georg Wolf
An all-inclusive guide to Hong Kong English, a version of the language that combines words and phrases native to the city, or specific terms that make a direct reference to subjects you won’t be able to find elsewhere. A melting pot of the cultural phenomena, local iconographies, slang that has solidified its place in local English usage, and other quirky terminology straddling between Cantonese and English wordplay, this dictionary is the first of its kind.
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