Sunday, January 30, 2011

GWEILO: MEMORIES OF A HONG KONG CHILDHOOD by Martin Booth



THE GIST:

An Englishman writes about his childhood in Hong Kong in the early 1950's. He gets to know the locals and has serendipitous adventures in old Hong Kong. The American edition is called GOLDEN BOY: MEMORIES OF A HONG KONG CHILDHOOD.

THE VERDICT:

This is a great book to read while you're in Hong Kong, or if you've ever been here before. The author provides vivid descriptions of the city at a time when foreigners were less common, coolies still patrolled the streets, and the opium dens still operated in the vanished Kowloon Walled City.

The book captures the joy of a childhood spent exploring a new place. There is a sense of openness and optimism that will appeal to the childlike adventurer within. The one drawback is that the author spends a bit too much time portraying his father as a nasty piece of work. At times he allows a lifetime of mature resentment to tarnish a lovely and innocent account of his early years.

Hong Kong has changed a lot in the last 50 years, but the flavor of places like Mongkok and Tsim Sha Tseui is still very much the same. I recognized so much in this book, even though some things are gone forever. Read this book if you want to know how Hong Kong feels.

THE LINK:

This author did not seem to have a website before he passed away in 2004. Here is a link to his Guardian obit: Martin Booth.

THE COST:

I borrowed this book in paperback format from a friend, so it didn't cost me anything. The Kindle edition is listed for $11.45.

THE QUESTION:

Why does Hong Kong draw people in such an irresistible way? What do you think is special about this city?

4 comments:

  1. I'll tell my husband about this book. He was raised in Hong Kong and I'm sure he'd love it. Have you read Fragrant Harbor? It's an inter-generational novel about Hong Kong - we both read it and thought it was fantastic!

    ReplyDelete
  2. I haven't read it yet, but I saw it in a bookstore just a few days ago. I'll have to add it to my list. Let me know if you guys are ever visiting your husband's old town!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Hi Shannon,

    Thanks for commenting on my blog!

    I loved reading this book.

    Now I'm looking for "Fragrant Harbor" but it seems there's no kindle version :(

    I've just read "Absurdistan" http://www.amazon.com/Absurdistan-ebook/dp/B003STDHF0 - recommend it! :)

    Cheers,
    Tom

    ReplyDelete
  4. Patrick from GermanyDecember 20, 2013 at 12:55 AM

    Hey, this is great. I used to study and live in Hong Kong. And I can truly say that I lost my heart to this city and its people.

    Thanks for sharing this. By the way, the picture you postet above is infront of my old apparment at the corner cochrane st. and Gage st. ..that is indeed a funny coincidence. http://goo.gl/maps/C1he9

    ReplyDelete

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...