Hong Kong Book Fair 2019, China

The 30th Hong Kong Book Fair, as a highly regarded annual event, last from July 17-23 at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre (HKCEC) in Wan Chai. The seven-day Hong Kong Book Fair attracted close to 1 million visitors in 2019, giving members of the public the chance to enjoy their favourite books and take part in various cultural events. A range of on-site seminars and Art Gallery exhibitions also received an enthusiastic response.

The 2019 Book Fair welcomes a record number of 686 exhibitors from 39 countries and regions, showcased across 15 thematic zones including the General Books Pavilion, International Cultural Village, Children’s Paradise and English Avenue. Each zone features a wide variety of high-quality reading materials while more than 310 cultural events catering to different ages and interests − including seminars, cultural performances and storytelling sessions − are being held during the fair period.

“Reading the World · When Fantasy Meets Reality”
This year the Book Fair under the theme “Sci-Fi and Mystery”, with the tagline “Reading the World ・ When Fantasy Meets Reality”. Aligning with this year’s Book Fair theme, the Art Gallery at the Hall 3 and Hall 5 concourse features a thematic exhibition titled “A Literary Journey Across Boundless Dimensions”. The exhibition will spotlight Hong Kong’s very own sci-fi and mystery authors, including Lee Man-kin (To Jim), Ni Kuang, Huang Yi, Eddy Lee, Leung For-hing, Albert Tam, Joe Tsui, Chan Ho-kei and Lai Ho.

The genres of science fiction and mystery have long dominated the literary scene in Hong Kong, with local authors showing masterful use of words as they interweave cultural, historical and social issues into their inspiring stories. Hong Kong Book Fair organise an array of seminars and exhibitions to help the public learn more about some of the best sci-fi and mystery authors and their works.

Hong Kong Book Fair encourage readers to explore the always-fascinating literary genres of sci-fi and mystery, immersing themselves in the captivating plots and finding joy through the written word. Hoping these literary works will arouse people’s curiosity and inspire them to enrich their lives by venturing into the unknown.

Hong Kong Book Fair also display precious memorabilia provided by the authors, including out-of-print works, manuscripts, photos, sketches and film excerpts. These include Ni Kuang’s manuscripts and some of his Wisely stories that were published in serial form in newspapers in the 1960s, Huang Yi’s Xingji Langzi manuscript, and a copy of The Strand Magazine from Lai Ho’s collection which features the first Sherlock Holmes short story. The exhibition also screens excerpts from The Legend of Wisely, a 1980s’ adaptation of the Wisely series. With a wide range of exhibits, the exhibition allows readers to approach the authors’ ideas from multiple perspectives.

30 anniversary
This year marks the 30th edition of the Hong Kong Book Fair, and the Art Gallery has set up a zone named “30 Years of Literary Delights” to exhibit treasured photos from the archives, memorabilia from the Art Gallery, and stamps and souvenir covers related to the Book Fair over the years. Highlights include the limited-edition bookmarks created for Hong Kong author Xi Xi’s The Teddy Bear Chronicles and Chronicles of Apes and Monkeys; Joseph Chak Wong’s drawing of Old Master Q to commemorate the Hong Kong Book Fair anniversary; and photographs of Louis Cha, one of the giants of martial arts literature, visiting the Book Fair. The exhibition will take readers down memory lane, exploring the Book Fair’s highlights and changes over three decades.

To commemorate the nearly lost art of ex libris, a bookplate inscribed to show the name of the book’s owner, the HKTDC has collaborated with the Hong Kong Ex-Libris Association to present an exhibition at the Art Gallery titled “In Between Covers – Reminiscences through an Ex Libris”. A fine selection of bookplates and inscription machines used to produce ex libris labels, from Hong Kong and overseas, is showcased along with the Association’s special publications. The Association will also hold lectures to introduce the art of bookplates and teach participants to appreciate, sustain and further develop this disappearing art.

Local culture
Another Art Gallery exhibition, “Light and Shadows – The Finest Cantonese Artistry”, is on show outside the Hall 3 concourse. The HKTDC has collaborated with the Administration of Press and Publication of Guangdong province to showcase Lingnan artworks on loan from various collectors, including paintings, Shiwan ceramics, Canton porcelain and calligraphy. Highlights include works from Chao Shao-an, Yang Shanshen, Guan Shanyue and Li Xiongcai. The HKTDC is also working with National Geographic magazine to exhibit a series of photographs of Guangdong, Hong Kong and Macao taken by renowned photographers, giving a fresh perspective on Lingnan culture.

International Cultural
The Book Fair presents quality publications from around the world across various thematic zones, including the International Culture Village, which features 33 countries and regions, including France, Germany and Italy, as well as the returning European Union Pavilion. Exhibitors will also offer a wide range of events to help the public get a better understanding of different cultures.

The “English Reading and Creative Writing Seminar Series” at the Book Fair encourages readers to expand their horizons through other languages. Partnering with Book Depository, an international online bookstore, the Book Fair has invited English author Will Dean to talk about how books are more powerful than films. Swedish children’s author Carl-Johan Forssén Ehrlin, meanwhile, share tips on how to get kids to fall asleep.

Other visiting authors include young British World Fantasy Awards-nominated author Emma Newman, and bestselling Canadian author Steven Erikson, whose Malazan Book of the Fallen has sold more than one million copies worldwide. There was talks from British Betty Trask Award winner Natasha Pulley, supported by the British Council, and Hong Kong-based veteran journalist and author Mark O’Neill, who discuss his new book on ethnic minorities in Hong Kong.

A perennial favourite at the fair, the Japan Pavilion returns this year on the fifth floor. Exhibitors from 14 cities and prefectures, including new exhibitors such as Nagano, Kyoto and Toyama, are teaming up with the Japan National Tourism Organisation and KADOKAWA CORPORATION to showcase local books and cultural products and offer virtual-reality tours of some of the attractions featured in anime and manga publications.

Ex libris is a bookplate, a small illustrated label that is printed and pasted onto a book to denote ownership – an artform that started in Europe and was later introduced to Hong Kong. To commemorate this nearly lost art that is closely associated with the love of literature and book collecting, the HKTDC is collaborating with the Hong Kong Ex-Libris Association to present In Between Covers – Reminiscences through an Ex Libris, an exhibition at the Art Gallery on the fifth floor. A fine selection of bookplates and inscription machines used to produce ex libris labels, from Hong Kong and various countries, will be showcased along with the Association’s special publications. The Association will also hold lectures to introduce the art of bookplates and teach participants to appreciate, sustain and further develop this disappearing art.

Children’s world
The Book Fair provides one of the best opportunities for parents to spend time reading together with their children. Located on the third level of the HKCEC, the Children’s Paradise zone features more than 220 exhibitors showcasing a diverse range of books and educational materials for children of all ages. The “Children and Youth Reading Seminar Series” covers such topics as parent-child reading, learning, and children’s education. Speakers include writer Fong She-mei, comic artist Ma Sing-yuen, and children’s book author Leon Image. Other distinguished speakers sharing educational stories on stage at the Children’s Paradise zone are disc jockey and TV host Josephine Ng, speed climber and bodybuilding world champion Lisa Cheng, singer-songwriter and actor Jonathan Wong, and local illustrator b.wing.

Cultural events
More than 310 cultural events were held on-site during the fair period, including “Theme of the Year: Sci-Fi and Mystery” seminars, renowned writers’ seminars, storytelling by celebrities and the International Publishing Forum. A total of more than 650 events were held in connection with the Book Fair, including activities taking place under the month-long “Cultural July” citywide campaign, drawing more than 300,000 attendees in total.

Seminar Series
Aligning with the focus of the 2019 Book Fair, the “Theme of the Year: Sci-Fi and Mystery Seminar Series” features leading local science fiction and mystery authors sharing their insights with participants. Eddy Lee, Jeremy Pak and Pegasus Mak examined “The Early Development of Sci-Fi in Hong Kong” on 17 July, with Lee Man-kin (To Jim), Permanent Honorary Advisor of the Hong Kong Science Fiction Club, as the special guest.

Writers Chan Ho-kei, Albert Tam, “Mong-yat” Jeremy Tse, CuronecoC and Faker will join the “Fiction Writers Roundtable – How Could We Become Sci-Fi and Mystery Literature Writers?” to detail their creative journeys, while Leung For-hing will host a seminar on “The Growth and Inheritance of the Secret Agent”. Yeh Lee Hwa from Chinese Taiwan discuss his views on science fiction in the seminar “From Isaac Asimov to Ni Kuang – My Sci-Fi Journey”, and Lai Ho, named as the favourite writer among Hong Kong’s primary school students, share his views on promoting children’s reading habits. Various sci-fi and mystery writers was also on hand to talk about their careers and offer writing tips.

The HKTDC is continuing its collaboration with Ming Pao and Yazhou Zhoukan to co-organise the “Renowned Writers Seminar Series”, featuring influential authors from the Chinese literary world. Taiwanese writer Ping Lu will talk about her works and tips on writing at a seminar on 18 July.

In another seminar, renowned author Ni Kuang will examine his relationship with his most famous creation, Wisely, while famous Mainland Chinese writer Mai Jia talk about his life experience through his new book, Rensheng Haihai. Other renowned authors taking part in the seminars include Yan Lianke, Liu Zhenyun, Bai Yansong, Han Song, Xu Zhiyuan, Mao Jian, Zhou Yunpeng, Jiang Fangzhou and Lu Qingyi from Mainland China; Janejane Chu, Ma Shihfang and Egoyan Zheng from Taiwan; and Wen Ren Yue Yue from Hong Kong.

The “World of Knowledge Seminar Series” also brings acclaimed overseas writers to the fair. Authors from around the world cover topics including art, film aesthetics and ageing populations. KADOKAWA CORPORATION has invited noted Japanese writer and winner of the 2009 Japan Booksellers’ Award Kanae Minato; the Consulate General of France in Hong Kong and Macau has invited science fiction author Bernard Werber; and the European Union Office to Hong Kong and Macao has lined up Finland’s Selja Ahava.

In addition, seminars was held by Chen Yi-min, Senior Editor at Ming Pao Weekly; Maurice Lee, Vice Chairman of the Hong Kong Arts Development Council; Timmy Yip, the first Chinese artist to win an Academy Award for Best Art Direction; Chinese film critic Ka Ming; Professor Shi Er, author of an acclaimed work of Chinese philosophical literature; Prof Zhang Long-xi, a scholar who specialises in East-West comparative studies; and Prof Joseph Lau, one of the founders of Modern Literature magazine.

Other seminar series include the “Children and Youth Reading Series”, “Personal Development and Spiritual Growth Seminar Series”, “Lifestyle Seminar Series”, and “Hong Kong Cultural and Historical Seminar Series”. The seminars will cover a wide range of topics that cater to all ages, interests and needs.

Green exhibition
Hong Kong Book Fair continued to reduce waste at the Book Fair, with exhibitors and visitors encouraged to use recycling bins. Book collection sites were set up at the fair once again for exhibitors to donate books. These will be donated to voluntary service organisations for distribution to individuals or organisations in need. The Hong Kong Book Fair mobile app was updated this year, allowing readers to receive the latest fair information and discount coupons, as well as locate exhibitors and cultural event venues. This helped to reduce the quantity of printed materials and make the fair more environmentally friendly.