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Hong Kong Noir (Akashic Noir Series) Paperback – December 4, 2018
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"Hong Kong Noir is a heart-stopping but spellbinding account of the glamorous city's repressed side."
--Hong Kong Review of Books
"Now in the 14th year of its Noir series--which has collected original stories from Brooklyn to Istanbul to Lagos--Akashic has assembled a delightfully dark collection of fiction from Hong Kong, a city where talk is cheap and cash is still king."
"Ng and Blumberg-Kason defy the fates by presenting a collection of 14 stores--by Chinese tradition, an ominous number--illustrating their city's dark side...Ng and Blumberg-Kason's Hong Kong is a city on the brink, haunted by its past but facing an uncertain future. Readers can feel lucky to have such a collection."
"Hong Kong is a city of breathtaking highs and earth-shattering lows, luxury and poverty, excess and want, and this new collection of 14 tales from Hong Kong's best crime writers showcases the extremes of one of the world's capitals. From ghost stories, to historical thrills, to underworld brutality, Hong Kong Noir, like the city it captures, is as endlessly fascinating as it is impossible to define."
"Readers will get a fair picture of Hong Kong's culture and history."
Included in Little Big Crimes' The Best Mystery Story I read This Week: Marshall Moore's "The Quintessence of Dust"
"This is a terrific short story collection from Akashic Books' ongoing series. These fourteen stories will warm your noir-loving heart and give you a glimpse into one of the world's greatest cities."
"Hong Kong Noir offers 14 tales, set in the past and present, that are deeply dark--noir at its most seductive and riveting. The writers you'll discover inside will not be familiar, but they'll mark you like a tattoo."
"If you like mysteries and short stories and are curious about the world, Akashic Noir is a delight and you will enjoy Hong Kong Noir."
--Tonstant Weader Reviews
About the Author
Susan Blumberg-Kason is the author of Good Chinese Wife: A Love Affair With China Gone Wrong. Her writing has also appeared in the Los Angeles Review of Books China Blog and China channel, Cha: An Asian Literary Journal, Asian Jewish Life, and several Hong Kong anthologies. She received an MPhil in government and public administration from the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Blumberg-Kason lives in Chicago and frequently travels to Hong Kong.
- Publisher : Akashic Books; Reprint edition (December 4, 2018)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 256 pages
- ISBN-10 : 1617756725
- ISBN-13 : 978-1617756726
- Item Weight : 8.8 ounces
- Dimensions : 5.2 x 0.8 x 8.2 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #1,187,533 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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Co-editor Jason Y. Ng starts things off with the subtly wrought “Ghost of Yulan Past,” but the bulk of the collection is firmly grounded in the plausible, despite ample servings of the macabre: the cop whose member is sliced off by his prostitute-lover which opens James Tam’s “Phoenix Moon,” the tourists dismembered in a horror costume shop in Shannon Young’s “Blood on the Steps,” or the distraught 12-year old girl in Carmen Suen’s “Fourteen,” who doesn’t realize she’s already dead after she drowns while drugged.
My favorites don’t have much to do with horror or noir proper but are simply well-told psychological thrillers condensed into short-story format, involving ordinary couples and an inexorable explosion of pent-up rage. In Tiffany Hawk’s “You Deserve More,” a husband colludes with his wife’s lover in the most shocking manner to humiliate her. In Christina Liang’s “A View to Die For,” a woman impulsively sleeps with her best friend’s son, with more shocking consequences.
On a whole a satisfying collection, though it’s too bad co-editor Susan Blumberg-Kason didn’t herself contribute a story, as her spooky memoir Good Chinese Wife could itself be described as noir writ large, if we understand the term to include the perverting and twisting of the most conventional human relationships by destructive impulses.
As noted in the excellent introduction that outlines the city’s checkered past, the number 14 is “about as bad as it gets in Hong Kong.” It’s pronounced “sup say” in Cantonese, which sounds like “sut say,” must die. (Tetraphobia is very common in Asia / East Asian communities; even in my building here in Malaysia, the floors go 13, 13A, 15...) It might be a cursed number, but it’s fitting that there are 14 stories in this dark, disturbing, ghostly anthology. My favorite stories are:
“A View to Die For” by Christina Liang. As a former expat Asian in China many of the narrator’s experiences really resonated with me (minus the sex and murder).
“One Marriage, Two People” by Rhiannon Jenkins Tsang, about a mixed marriage gone wrong, set during the handover.
“The Quintessence of Dust” by Marshall Moore, about the suicides on Cheung Chau Island, something I’d never heard about (and had me Googling in sick fascination).
Though I seem attracted to expat narratives, the stories about local people and working class life were fascinating as well, especially Carmen Suen’s spooky “Fourteen,” set in a public housing estate.
From Kirkus: “Ng and Blumberg-Kason’s Hong Kong is a city on the brink, haunted by its past but facing an uncertain future. Readers can feel lucky to have such a collection.” Agreed. I would have preferred more crime stories but this was a great read. I have family in Hong Kong but have only experienced the city in very brief visits, and was pleased to learn more about its history and culture.
The book is broken into four parts, organized around a common theme, with the goal of leaving the reader to his or her imagination by the time the tale ends.
Jason Y. Ng starts things off with “Ghost of Yulan Past”: a mysterious shopkeeper intrigues a passerby. A great beginning but from there it was a series of hits and misses.
The latter half of the book makes up for a bumpy middle but this isn’t a collection that will suffer from a lack of quality, well-written, content; there’s plenty of that to be found here. If nothing else, Ng gathered a phenomenal group of writers, from there it’s a matter of taste.
I ended up thoroughly enjoying each of the stories and whenever I had to take a break for sleep, food or work, I couldn’t wait to get back to the book. What a wonderful collection.
I loved the short story format and how each and every author had their own unique perspective and writing style. Each writer looking at a different facet of the city, its culture and its heritage.
I was sucked in by the time I finished the first story from Jason Y. Ng’s “Ghost of Yulan Past”. And I was held through all 14 stories until I finished Ysabelle Cheung’s “Big Hotel.”
I was enjoying the book so much I actually slowed down my reading, I wanted to relish every word. I also took time between each story just to give more thought to the characters and the author. It really was that good. Each story held something new and intriguing. A chill from an unseen twist in the story, a poignant statement on society as a whole, an outright cold and scary theme, historical insights and the list goes on. Fourteen different opportunities to be surprised.
This is definitely a book you will want to finish and one that you will not have regretted reading. Do yourself a favor and get this book. I am already
Top reviews from other countries
I have always been a fan of noir fiction. I like it so much I wrote a noir novel. The key features of classic noir are: gritty, believable yet unbelievable characters, sparse prose, underlying terror or horror, a sense of the macabre, black humour and moral trajectories of the hero/antihero. You do not know quite what is good or evil and yet you care. The twist is coming. You want to be there when it comes because nothing is what it seems. The questions always raised are what happens to the bitter, flawed, stupid or bad? Or are they actually naive, perfect, clever and good?
These 14 stories have been divided into 4 parts. Thematically, these correspond to the big themes in Chinese culture. Hungry Ghosts and Troubled Spirits, Obedience and Respect, Family Matters, Death and Thereafter. It is cyclical and symbolic of life itself - from ghosts to death. Jason Ng's Ghost of Yulan Past kicks off the stories, where a young man is obsessed with the promise of a ghost encounter in a temple. In Xu Xi's TST, "wandering, exhausted, famished ghosts with no hope of rest" are the spirits of dead whores who need to become women and not "pigs to be hosed down and sold". "You Deserve More" by Tiffany Hawk, set in the expatville of Lan Kwai Fong, was a moving story about an unhappy American wife of a successful businessman, who revisits Hong Kong and looks up her Chinese ex-lover, and the devastating consequences of the rendezvous.
Christina Liang's fabulous "A View to Die For" reminds me of the woman-who-has-it-all character type: professional and successful Chinese career woman educated in the West but comes back to work in Asia. A seemingly powerless mom and housewife next door sees this epitome of the successful woman as a betrayal of the sisterhood, robbing her child's innocence and therefore hers. Rhiannon Jenkins Tsang's "One Marriage, Two People" set in a tiny flat in Ma On Shan raises the cultural conflicts of the handover, the fear and entrapment of two worlds - the effete, bourgeois colonial one and the modern Chinese pragmatic, even harsh, way of life. Incidentally in the introduction this story had the title "One Country, Two People".
Fourteen by Carmen Suen is an utterly gripping and heartwrenching story of the escape of friendship. Two girls become friends in the Wah Ming House of the Wah Fu estate in tiny council flats in poverty, the older girl being in a single parent family. Lit "Fun was as much a luxury as privacy. When you're poor, you learn to live without both."
At times heartwarming and at others, stomach churning, Hong Kong Noir is shadowy, thoughtful anthology, a visceral tour de force of the murky alleyways of Hong Kong's past and present.