I’m a big fan of books published by Blacksmith Books in Hong Kong. What’s not to love? The press publishes mostly non-fiction narratives, memoirs, food, photography, and other art and culture titles pertaining to Hong Kong. But every once in a while it releases a novel or collection of short stories.
Blacksmith published David T. K. Wong‘s Collected Hong Kong Stories last month and it’s one of their best yet. Wong is a master storyteller and brings the reader back to Old Hong Kong, a time well before the Handover when Hong Kong culture was at its peak.
In his stories, which cover pre-WWII Hong Kong to pre-Handover Hong Kong, many of Wong’s characters mirror the many stages of his life, from a childhood in Hong Kong to a student in the US and the UK to a journalist in Hong Kong, as well as a civil servant there.
Some of my favorite stories involve cross-cultural love stories (“Lost River”,”Miss Tsushima”, “Julia”,”Strangers When They Part”, and “Hammer and Tong”). I also liked how a series of stories involved a place called Szeto’s Bar in Wanchai.
The stories deal with cultural issues like the desire for a male heir, filial piety, the preservation of traditional culture, and the suppression of locals during colonialism. But they also tackle issues that transcend borders like infidelity, sexism, and racism.
What I liked best about this book was Wong’s preservation through his words of a Hong Kong we’ll never see again.