From History to Fiction: Inventing Hong Kong Stories
On April 4, 2018, acclaimed author Dung Kai-cheung enraptured an audience at the UBC Institute of Asian Research with an account of Hong Kong came into being by an act of invention. Weaving together works of history, cartography, and literature, including his novel Atlas: The Archaeology of an Imaginary City, Mr. Dung retraced the idea of Hong Kong as a place of stories—with profoundly subversive implication. In 1842, the city was founded by the British on the steep and nearly landless northern coast of a barely inhabited island in southern China. This island had no official name and was not even recorded on the map. By naming it 「Hong Kong,」 the city was created from scratch. History began as fiction and with fiction we reinvent the sites of history. All narratives about Hong Kong, he argued, thus inevitably cross the line between fact and myth, reality and imagination.