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By: Malcolm Jack

My Hong Kong

Pages: 200 Ratings: 4.9
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How was Hong Kong perceived and described by writers from the 1950s during the last colonial period? Was it a British city or was it Chinese?

The writers show how different life was for ex-pats ensconced on the Peak and leading a glitzy lifestyle compared to refugees who came pouring into the colony from mainland China and lived in dire poverty in squatter camps.

Find out if that East and West ever mingled in My Hong Kong.


Malcolm Jack was brought up and schooled in Hong Kong before returning to university in the UK. As a child, he learned Cantonese at the same time as English. He has had a career both as a public servant and a writer. His writing includes books, articles, reviews on history, literature, philosophy, and politics, as well as travel works on Portugal, and most recently, on South Africa. He is a frequent visitor to Hong Kong.

Customer Reviews
4.9
35 reviews
35 reviews
  • Transported to an unique Hong Kong

    Beautifully written portrait of his much loved city, vividly captures his own personal experiences as well recreating this unique place, which is ever evolving, through his fascinating perception. Thanks Austin Macauley for sending the book so promptly and to the author Malcolm Jack to bring us this most wonderful book.

  • Margaret Baird

    Simply delighted to receive my copy from Austin Macauley that arrived earlier this week. A most enjoyable contemporary review written by well known author Malcolm Jack. It has transported me to Hong Kong and the wonderful vibrant city that where East and West mingled. With an assured style Malcolm described the diversity of life in this buzzing metropolis. Malcom has a wonderful sense of place and sensitivity to the ever changing world of the privileged as well as the population who live in dire poverty on squatter camps. Affordable and well produced . Essential reading!

  • David Hay Gibson, The Netherlands 8th October 2022

    What a treat it is to read Malcolm Jack’s “My Hong Kong” published by Austin Macauley and to be taken back to the 1950’s to capture the magic atmosphere of the vibrant, bustling colony that was Hong Kong. Life on the Peak in the 50’s was in stark contrast to the lower regions in the harbour areas where poverty ruled the day. Jack shares some wonderful personal memories about his upbringing in an entirely “open style” which enabled him to participate in the Chinese culture in that era and British colonial life too. Reared in English and Cantonese is a great asset that the writer possesses in combination with knowledge of both cultures to enable the reader to get a good insight and become involved in Jack’s “Hong Kong” when the handover to the Chines authorities in 1997 seemed a lifetime away!

  • Gloria Chandra

    An interesting and insightful account of life in Hong Kong. Well written, easy to read and a colourful blend of east and west relationships.

  • Elizabeth Reid

    From the vantage point of his perspective of a childhood in Hong Kong in the 1950s and his many subsequent visits to the city and through an analysis of the narratives of a group of writers in their memoirs and in their fiction drawn from their own experiences of Hong Kong, Malcolm Jack has crafted a rich tapestry of life in Hong Kong between the immediate post war period and the handover of the colony to China in 1997.
    Its depth, which is built steadily over the time span covered by each chapter of the book, with every one devoted to a single author, ranges over the period. It includes descriptions of the sights, sounds and smells of Hong Kong, Kowloon and the New Territories, of Chinese customs, values and social mores and of the diversity of the social structures of the population from the expatriate colonial elite and the wealthy Chinese community, through the position of the Eurasians, the refugees from the mainland - the Shanghainese and the working people and poor of all communities.

    Through the interweaving of the themes developed by each of the authors whose work is explored by Jack, life in Hong Kong is brought into focus, not least by the shared memories that emerge across the chapters. Thus the descriptions of the lived experiences of the protagonists in each chapter are reinforced and will resonate with all who have resided in, worked in and even visited Hong Kong. They address that which has changed and that which tenaciously endures in the society they depict.
    The authors whose work is explored in “My Hong Kong” are variously British, Chinese, Eurasian, Korean, American and Russian Jewish. “Their Hong Kong” is deeply personal. It involves family and relationships, love, loss, riches and poverty, a sense of belonging and of alienation too. The personal is expressed in the contribution of the amahs in so many families and homes, in the languages spoken, the food people ate and the conjuring up of the distinctive memories of Hong Kong that endure in the mind’s eye. For some that is the view from the Peak District, of the city and the harbour, be it night or day, for others crossings between Hong Kong Island and Kowloon on the Star Ferry and for yet others street life and perhaps the accompanying squalor.
    This is, above all, an evocative book and is a felt contribution to the history of a time and of a place in the great trading and port city of Hong Kong.

  • David Seton

    Before reading this book, my idea of Hong Kong was 19th-century, romantic and ill-informed. After reading it I have a much better notion of the city, better founded in fact but every bit as positive as before. A good read. Well printed, nicely put together (unlike some titles I could mention) - well done all round.

  • Sebastian Payne

    Malcolm Jack's book 'My Hong Kong' is a fascinating read. I like the central device of the book, exploring the culture and history of Hong Kong through a selection of the novels on Hong Kong and the lives of their authors. The prose style is impressive and the exploration of the literature is a creative and original literary contribution in its own right. I think that this book would be enjoyed by those who know Hong Kong well and serve as a first class introduction to the place and the literature.

  • Richard Le Page

    Understanding China and the Chinese is a formidable task for most of us, one never more vital than now. Malcolm Jack's exquisitely drawn narrative, rooted in growing up in Hong Kong and speaking Cantonese, uses good books to take us part of the way. He draws from the work of acclaimed writers to reveal how intricate aspects of life in that great city were during the 20th century within and between groups of Chinese and Europeans. He tells us how the writers became able to tell stories that embraced emotional, political, ideological, societal and racial aspects of the lives and affairs of Hong Kong's poorer villagers, illiterate fishermen, colonial civil servants, doctors and journalists and rich city folk alike. As author and compiler Malcolm Jack's touching introduction authenticates his points of view too. Is he one of the few Europeans to understand the social histories of one small part of China as well as many Chinese? I can't help feeling he is.

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