From its beginnings as a pestilent port and colonial backwater,
Hong Kong became the "pearl" of a declining British empire, and
then ascended to its present status as a gleaming city of commerce.
Throughout its history, Hong Kong has been steeped in drama,
intrigue, and seismic social shifts. Shih Shu-ching, an acclaimed
Taiwanese writer, sets her epic tale of one beautiful and
determined woman's family amid this rich and colorful history,
capturing in vivid, panoramic detail the unique tensions and
atmosphere that characterize the city. Critically praised and long
popular in the Chinese-speaking world, City of the Queen
is now available for the first time in English.
After being kidnapped from her home in rural China, Huang, the
novel's heroine, is brought to Hong Kong and sold into
prostitution. Thanks to her shrewd, sometimes devious business
dealings and unexpected twists of fate, she emerges from these
cruel beginnings to become a wealthy landowner. City of the
Queen follows the fortunes of Huang's family, including those
of her devoutly Christian daughter-in-law, who tries to redeem the
sins she believes Huang has committed; her grandson, who becomes
the first Chinese judge on the Hong Kong Supreme Court; and her
great-granddaughter, a quintessential Hong Kong young woman, who
turns her back on family tradition to revel in the pleasures
offered by the 1970s and 1980s metropolis.
The novel introduces a range of other Chinese and British
characters, examining the complicated relationships between
colonizer and colonized in a searing and perceptive portrayal of
colonialism. There is Adam Smith, the British officer who struggles
with the competing seductions of Huang's beauty and British
respectability; Qu Yabing, Smith's servant, who despises anything
Chinese, yet becomes Huang's lover after she is abandoned by Smith;
Colonel White, the sadistic colonial police chief; and Auntie
Eleven, a concubine who owns a pawnshop and teaches Huang the
secrets of the trade.
Subjects: Language & Literature
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