‘In Hong Kong, it seemed that no matter where you stood, there were people around, above, and below you. Space was the city’s hottest commodity: an inch of gold for a foot of soil, my dad would say’.
‘The Seventh Year’ by Jenn Chan Lyman in The Queen of Statue Square: New Short Fiction from Hong Kong, Pg.30
I found this collection of stories hidden away in the very commercial Dymocks Bookshop, situated in the ifc mall, Central, and thought it would be only appropriate to try and explore more contemporary ‘Hong Kong’ writers whilst living here. Although I bought a few ‘Hong Kong’ books before I arrived here, last August, I am ashamed to say I haven’t looked at any of them! Anyway, maybe after reading The Queen of Statue Square, I will be more inclined to pick up books written by Hong Kong writers.
What was most interesting about this collection was the ‘Introduction’ written by Marshall Moore and Xu Xi, who wrote The Unwalled City – a book I have yet to read on my to-be-read list. It is always exciting to learn about the reasons behind a specific anthology or collection, particularly when it comes to defining what it means to be from a particular culture or nationality. This definitely comes into acute focus and awareness when talking about what it means to be a ‘Hong-Konger’.
‘So who is a Hong Kong person, then? An important distinction is often lost: even though there is significant overlap between Hong Kong identity and Chinese ethnicity, they are different for reasons of history, culture, and law’.
‘Introduction’ by Marshall Moore in The Queen of Statue Square: New Short Fiction from Hong Kong, Pg.8
Although there are many Chinese influences and traditions upheld in this very international city, Hong Kong has a unique history. With the territory’s previous British colonial rule, Western influences sit side-by-side Chinese tradition. Hong Kong is a melting-pot of cultures and identities, inhabited by Chinese people, Western expats, residents from other Asian countries and domestic workers who are never granted permanent residence. Therefore, issues of identity are not so clear-cut. Additionally, Moore points out that many children, from a young age, are sent overseas for schooling, which adds to the difficulty of defining a ‘Hong Kong person’. Yet despite these difficulties, the theme of ‘identity’ weaves through each short story, even though this was not a criteria of the submissions.