Books for/on Hong Kong

Jan 27th, 2004, 07:03 AM
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Books for/on Hong Kong

Can you suggest any good books for reading while in Hong Kong either about the area, perhaps historical (not guide books, have an armload of those) or fictional that take place in Hong Kong. Thanks!
therealbobbie is offline  
Jan 27th, 2004, 07:24 AM
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Well the obvious answer to this is James Clavells? books, Taipan, Noble House and of less direct association, Gai Jin. Some what more serious books are ?Myself a Mandarin? and ?City of Broken promises? both I believe by Austin Coates. Although the later is based on Macao, it probably portrays early Hong Kong.
Tangata is offline  
Jan 27th, 2004, 08:04 AM
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I agree with "Myself a Mandarin" and the James Clavell books. I have some others to suggest:

1. My favourite book about Hong Kong is "Hong Kong", by Jan Morris. She has written wonderful travel books about many different places, and has a way of mixing history with her personal travel story which makes you want to keep reading.

2. "Culture Shock! Hong Kong", which gives a good background people, religion and customs of Hong Kong. It is part of the Culture Shock Series of books printed by Graphic Arts Center Publishing Company. You can find them on the web or your local bookstore may have it or can order it for you.

I will check my bookshelf at home for others and post again.

There are some very good picture books about Hong Kong, among them "Last Prize of the Empire". Many are published by Formasia books. You can usually find them in bookshops, they make nice mementoes of a trip.

There are many good English bookshops in Hong Kong, and they all have a local section with fiction and non-fiction books on Hong Kong. Your hotel gift shop may also have books, esp. the Formasia books. Some good bookshops:

Hong Kong Book Centre, 25 Des Voeux Rd, Central, Tel: 2522 7064. An old-fashioned book store with an amazing amount of books crammed into a small basements space.

Dymock's, Level 2, International Finance Centre, Central Tel: 2117 0360. Chain outlet, lots of selection.

Kelly and Walsh, Shop 304 Pacific Place, Admiralty, Tel: 2522 5743. Has an excellent selection of Asian art and collectible books, and pretty good travel book section. (They also have a shop at One Exchange Square, where the main bus terminal is located.)

Paddyfield (walk-in) Suite 23A, 245-251 Hennessy Road, Wanchai Tel: 2511 4211. This is hard to find as it is on an upper floor of an office block, but the staff is very nice, and they will order anything for you. Take a look at their website at They are a real old-fashioned book shop as opposed to the bigger chains.

You will also find outlets of the Times Bookshops all over Hong Kong. They have a good local Hong Kong selection.

I also just found a website that has a review of different books about Hong Kong. I have not explored it at all, but you might want to:

Two films to consider renting are "Love is a Many Splendoured Thing (very dated, but still great scenery) and "The World of Suzy Wong" (very dated but still interesting). Of course if you like Jackie Chan films, then you can see them all before you go. . .

Cicerone is offline  
Jan 27th, 2004, 08:06 AM
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Great responses, many thanks, I'll check back again. Cicerone and really appreciate your assistance. Bobbie
therealbobbie is offline  
Jan 27th, 2004, 08:41 AM
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My favorite non-fiction is "Travelers' Tales: Hong Kong," part of the Traveler's Tales series. It's a collection of essays and stories on Hong Kong, a fantastic read for anyone who has been to or is looking forward to Hong Kong. Noble House is indeed a good read, and the mini-series (available on Video but probably not DVD) is absolutely terrific: the story is not bad, the acting by Pierce Brosnan is 1st-rate, and the pictures of all of Hong Kong (circa 1990) are a joy.

Other recent movies set in Hong Kong that I've enjoyed were Chinese Box, with Jeremy Irons in his usual brooding role, and Chungking Express, for some curious views of the curious and infamous Chungking Mansions.
DonTopaz is online now  
Jan 27th, 2004, 10:20 AM
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Agree with rizzuto about Travelers Tales: Hong Kong. That whole series is terrific.
Marilyn is offline  
Jan 28th, 2004, 03:03 AM
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Going through my bookshelf, here are a few more suggestions:

Somewhere Between Heaven and Earth, edited by Barbara Sue-White. This is a collection of letters and stories by others (Queen Victoria, Rudyard Kipling, WH Auden) which tells the history of the colony over several hundred years. Also has some interesting photos of old Hong Kong.

Painted Veil, Somerset Maugham. The opening takes place in Hong Kong in the 1920s, the balance of the story takes place in a small Chinese village. A wonderful novel even if you aren't going further into China. Somerset Maugham has written extensively about SE Asia, you can find collections of his short stories in most bookshops. He focuses more on Malaysia, Singapore and the Indonesian islands.

Falling Leaves; Chinese Cinderella, by Adeline Yen Mah. Not about Hong Kong per se, but still the compelling autobiographies of a Chinese woman born into a wealthy family in Shanghai the 1930s who, being a girl, was unwanted.

Sterling Seagrave has written a number of non-fiction books about China and Asia which make very interesting reading. The Soong Dynasty and Dragon Lady are two very good ones.

Robert Elegant has written a number of fiction and non-fiction books on Hong Kong and Asia. His most popular fiction book is Dynasty, he has also written Mandarin. I have not read either. I have read some of his non-fiction including Pacific Destiny: Inside Asia Today which I found very interesting and well-written. He has also written a book called Last Year in Hong Kong which came out in 1997 and is presumably about the handover of Hong Kong to the PRC (or reunification to be politically correct).

Of course Life and Death in Shanghai, the Good Earth, Wild Swans Three Daughters of China, and Dream of the Red Chamber are classic books about China generally if you are interested.
Cicerone is offline  
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