Looking for books to read? Get inspired by the highlights from the Hong Kong International Literary Festival 2021.
With the holiday season coming up, it’s time to shop for gifts and plan your vacay for 2022. If you’re looking for a present for your bookworm pal, or thinking about how you’re going to kill time during quarantine (sorry for bringing that up), you’re in the right place – because we’ve got a brilliant recommended reading list for you here. Exclusively curated by Catherine Platt, Festival Director of the Hong Kong International Literary Festival (which runs until 15 November 2021), this list leaves you no excuse to not pick up a book this week!
Highlighted works from the 2021 Hong Kong International Literary Festival, as recommended by Catherine Platt
1. The Promise by Damon Galgut
What Catherine says: The Promise is an easy pick, because it’s just won the 2021 Booker Prize. Also, I love books that take me deep into the emotional and historical landscape of another culture, which this does with South Africa. The novel tells the story of a family through four funerals in an innovative and intriguing narrative voice that brings this formal structure to dazzling life.
2. Heavy Light by Horatio Clare
What Catherine says: I love Horatio Clare’s travel writing and this book takes him into deeply moving territory, as he charts his personal journey through mania and breakdown. He reflects, with warmth and compassion, on how we understand and treat acute mental health crises.
3. Ghost Forest by Pik-shuen Fung
What Catherine says: Ghost Forest, the debut novel by Canadian artist Pik-shuen Fung, is a poignant depiction of an astronaut family. The narrator negotiates her difficult relationship with her absent father, who stayed to work in Hong Kong after the family emigrated. It makes us wonder: how do we grieve if our family doesn’t talk about feelings?
4. AI 2041 by Kai-fu Lee and Chen Qiufan
What Catherine says: This book is at the top of my reading list, because it’s such an intriguing collaboration and so relevant to our immediate future. Technologist Kai-fu Lee and science fiction writer Chen Qiufan have written ten short stories that imagine how AI may impact our lives in 20 years’ time, covering big data, biometrics, autonomous vehicles, robotics, UBI, as well as social and ethical issues that may arise from new technologies.
5. Diamond Hill by Kit Fan
What Catherine says: Another wonderful debut, by poet Kit Fan, that recreates shanty town life in the 1980s right before the handover of Hong Kong. The book follows the recovering heroin addict, Buddha, as he tries to come to terms with his past. During this process, he encounters a variety of characters, including teenage drug dealers, Buddhist nuns, and property developers. The novel also gives us an insight into Hong Kong’s former Hollywood, Diamond Hill, at the point of its demise.