Emily Chow-Quesada reviews the exciting launch of the Hong Kong Writers Circle latest anthology at the Hong Kong International Literary Festival.

Launch of the Hong Kong Writers Circle Anthology 2019

Founded in 2001, the Hong Kong International Literary Festival (HKILF) has now become a keenly anticipated event by many in town. This year, the HKILF programme boasted over fifty international writers talking at nearly 60 venues across Hong Kong. Despite the ongoing social unrest this year, most of the programme was held successfully – one of which was the launch of the Hong Kong Writers Circle (HKWC) new anthology of creative writing, Coming to our Senses (2019).

The Fringe Club, HK

Held on 8 November at the Fringe Club in Central, the venue matched well the relaxed atmosphere of the launch. As an organisation that helps to develop both a writer’s writing skills and knowledge of the publishing industry, the HKWC has been collating and publishing annual anthologies of its members’ work since 2005. As noted by this year’s master of ceremonies, Chris Maden, and the lead editor of the HKWC, Joy Al-Sofi, the organisation has grown steadily over the years to become the home of many emerging as well as established writers.

Many of the contributors to this year’s anthology read their works that evening, including “Sensei” by Stewart McKay, “Dim Sum Diaries” by Dimple Shah, “Getting Ready to Disappear” by Paul Corrigan, “The Typhoon Child” by Andy Morrall, “The Hammer and the Hand” by Henrik Hoeg, and “New Discoveries” by Joy Al-Sofi. The readings ranged across both prose and poetic forms, and in so doing built up a kaleidoscopic impression of life in the city.

Among the pieces shared, I found Anni Juliana Tobing’s short story, “More than She Knew,” particularly compelling. Tobing announced herself as an Indonesian migrant worker who was publishing her work for the first time this year with the HKWC. The relatively light-hearted reading belied the seriousness of a plot that revolved around a protagonist who had reluctantly left her children in Indonesian as she searched for work as a domestic helper in Hong Kong. Rather than reading one of the desperate sections from her story, Tobing chose instead to offer a scene that sees the protagonist first arrive in Hong Kong with hope and excitement in her heart.

As a whole, the evening of writers presenting their work was both instructive and inspiring. At the very least, it presented the vibrancy and differences that are sometimes forgotten when thinking of Hong Kong.

Dr. Emily CHOW-QUESADA researches on world literature, postcolonial literature, and representations of Africa in Hong Kong. She has published journal articles and book chapters on Anglophone African literature and representation of African cultures. Her current project looks into the representations of blackness in Hong Kong media. She has taught courses in world literature, postcolonial literature, African literature, representations of blackness, and cultural studies. She is also the editor of the “Hong Kong and Chinese Literature and Culture” section of The Hong Kong Review of Books.

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