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:
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
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.