Hong Kong Adventure!

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I have some extremely exciting news that I have been sitting on for a while (since Easter). I stated in my About page that I was a recent English Literature graduate hoping to teach English as a foreign language. After completing my Trinity CertTESOL course last September and spending the past 6/7 months working full-time (though I haven’t saved nearly as much as I was hoping), I have just secured my first teaching job abroad! The contract has been signed, my visa documents successfully sent off and my flight has been booked! I will be flying to Hong Kong (via Mumbai) on the 13th August and taking my blog with me!

Although being incredibly nervous about taking such a big step and wondering how on earth I will pack everything I need for a year into one suitcase, I have, instead, taken the opportunity to compile a Hong Kong reading list, which will, unfortunately, have to be purchased on my Kindle. The only books I will be taking with me are essential grammar books!

1) White Ghost Girls by Alice Greenway:

White Ghost Girls

Published in 2006, Alice Greenway’s first novel, White Ghost Girls, was longlisted for the Orange Prize for Fiction (now the Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction). Set in 1960s Hong Kong, it tells the tale of two American sisters growing up in an extraordinary setting. With the turmoil of Maoist China spilling into Hong Kong and the Vietnam war raging in the distance, Frankie and Kate attempt to live an ordinary teenage existence. Where Frankie is curious and not afraid to take risks, Kate is more reserved and observant. One day, when they decide to explore a village market, tragedy befalls them. As the Guardian describes White Ghost Girls, it is a ‘powerful and haunting novel of love and loss’.

2) Gweilo: A Memoir of a Hong Kong Childhood by Martin Booth

Martin Booth’s book is a poignant childhood memoir, exploring the fascinating culture and customs of a Chinese city that was ruled, and heavily influenced, by the British Empire. Moving there in the 1950s, Booth was only seven years old, but he fully immersed himself in the native way of life – from learning Cantonese and sampling Hong Kong delicacies to participating in the many exciting and colourful festivals that adorned the city. Apparently, his easy-going and curious nature enabled him to access many parts of Hong Kong life that many Westerners never ventured into and Booth’s account is as much a childhood memoir as an historical account of an expanding and changing city.

3) Fragrant Harbour by John Lanchester

John Lanchester’s Fragrant Harbour spans the majority of the twentieth century, capturing the glamour of the 1930s, the Japanese occupation during World War II, the rapid economic expansion of the 1970s and 80s and the Chinese handover from the British in 1997. Following four individuals, Fragrant Harbour has, at its heart, a love story, intertwining personal histories with the history of Hong Kong. Contradicting the notion that Hong Kong is a modern metropolis, Lanchester highlights how the past lives on.

4) Love in a Fallen City by Eileen Chang

Love in a Fallen City

Eileen Chang, one of the most influential Chinese writers of the twentieth century, moved to Hong Kong to study but had to return to her hometown, Shanghai, when Hong Kong fell under Japanese control during the Second World War. Her collection of short stories in Love in a Fallen City chronicles the lives and loves of Hong Kong citizens during this period.

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22 Replies to “Hong Kong Adventure!”

  1. What exciting news! I can tell you from experience that it will be even harder to pack your suitcase after your year in Hong Kong is over. 🙂 I enjoyed reading Eileen Chang’s short stories. I’ve put Fragrant Harbor onto my TBR list…

    1. I’m sure it will! I have a habit of acquiring loads of stuff! I can’t wait to start on the Hong Kong reading list, Eileen Chang’s stories sound really interesting, glad to hear you enjoyed them.

  2. This is amazing! You’re going to have an fantastic time. Looks like you’re taking some great books with you, I think that is the upside to the Kindle, the ability to take many books with you without the weight.

    1. Thank you! It will be the first time I use my Kindle in a long while, though it makes the purchase of it worthwhile. Now I just have to shorten my Kindle wish list to a more manageable size!

    1. Haha, thank you! I had never heard of any of these books until I started researching books based in Hong Kong. I can’t wait to start reading them.

  3. Such a coincidence. I am packing my suitcase to leave Hong Kong right now (also after a year). Leave some space, or be prepared to ship an extra bag home!

    I’ll have to check out those books, I’ll need something to read whilst I’m travelling about on overnight trains. It’s a shame that I never get any just for pleasure reading done during term time, because of all the politics books and newspapers I’m reading, but now its the holidays I’ll be using your blog for some inspiration!

    1. I had that same problem when I was at uni, it was only after I left that I started to read for pleasure again. Let me know if you do read any of these books, I probably won’t get round to trying them until before I go or whilst I am out there.

      I look forward to reading about your travels!!

  4. This sounds exciting. Good idea to restrict yourself to the kindle so you have plenty of space for all the fabulous clothes you’ll be able to get made in silk. The Fragrant Harbour novel is the on,y one from your list I’ve hear of but I’m going to take a look at some of the others now

    1. Thank you! I don’t suppose you have anymore to add (I saw that you were from Hong Kong in your About page)?

      1. O yes. I use the blog mainly to practice my English:) Anyway, will you be in Hong Kong in July? Cause the City will soon have a massive book fair in mid-July which lasts about a week. So see if you could have a look-round there 🙂

      2. Oh no! I don’t fly out to HK until August. Does this happen every year? If so I will be around for next year’s one!

      3. the book fair is over now! But you might go there next year! By the way in which district you’ll be working? Just curious to know.

  5. You can read Xu Xi’s books. She is a English language novelist from Hong Kong. I read some of her short stories about Hong Kong which recommended by my foreign professor.
    P.S. I am a Hongkonger.@@

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