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No City for Slow Men: Hong Kong's Quirks and Quandaries Laid Bare Paperback – January 7, 2015
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"Ng's observations are compelling, entertaining and insightful. His essay 'Maid in Hong Kong' provides a much needed voice to the migrant worker community in Hong Kong." —Noel Servigon, Philippine Consul General to Hong Kong
About the Author
Jason Y. Ng is a lawyer, blogger and newspaper columnist who lived in Europe, the US and Canada before returning to Hong Kong.
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The essay which gives its name to the title, No City for Slow Men, is a hilarious portrayal of the dynamic pace at which Hong Kongers live their lives. Speed is in our DNA, Ng wryly observes, as evolution has caused us all to mutate into multi-taskers, genetically programmed to feel unproductive unless we are doing three things at once. Just superb!
Ng proves equally adept in the field of history, as he brings to life Sheung Wan’s colourful past, guiding us through its fascinating 170 year evolution from shantytown to trendy neighbourhood hang-out, in ‘History in our Midst’.
There are also some real heart-warming, personal pieces in the collection. ‘No City for Slow Men’ has Ng recreating a dinner table conversation with his parents, which exquisitely examines the growing problem of poverty among the elderly in our city. The last two essays, one on his father’s work as an illustrator, the other on his mother’s background, are poignant depictions of two people who have played such an important part in Ng’s life. Throughout the book, the father’s illustrations offer a strong compliment to the son’s words.
If I had to pick a stand-out personal favourite, however, it would be ‘HKID’, which sets out the city’s difficulty in trying to find its true identity in the post-Handover era. Hong Kong needs to find out what principles it stands for, before it is able to defend them, Ng challenges, otherwise the city faces the inevitable erosion of its uniqueness in favour of the cloak of just any other Chinese megalopolis.
I agree with Ng: this challenge is indeed a vital and urgent one. But those best placed to meet it are not sound-bite spouting politicians, posing movie stars or self-interested tycoons. We need a real opinion former to take on the challenge.
I say, look no further than the author of this book. As a gifted essayist, Jason Ng is best placed to take on the responsibility handed down to him from past-masters of the genre like Edmund Burke and Tom Paine.
So a five-star, ‘must-read’ from me.
Check out Jason Ng's Hong Kong blog, As I See It, for more social commentary on life in one of the world's most vibrant cities.