March 2020: The Borrowed

Das Auge von Hongkong
© Goethe-Institut Hongkong

Very often we read European Literature translated into Chinese. One could easily find Chinese translated edition of German novels at the Goethe-Library. But how often can we find local Hong Kong literature being translated in English, let alone German? I guess that explains my excitement seeing Hong Kong author Simon Chan’s crime novel translated and published in German.
In fact I came across the same excitement a year ago when I finished reading the original Chinese edition. Never really enthusiastic about crime novels, I was surprised by my urge to finish Chan’s award-winning novel THE BORROWED in one go. When I reached the last page of this 490 paged novel, I was again surprised to find out that I had been sort of manipulated by the writer. Yet I didn’t feel angry at all, instead I felt absolutely amused by such reading experience, and I couldn’t get enough of Chan’s other works.
THE BORROWED evolves around the life of KWAN CHUN-DOK, a legendary Hong Kong detective. Together with Kwan, readers go through six mysterious crimes against the backdrop of key events in Hong Kong, ranging from the 1967 riots to the handover and the umbrella movement. Obviously Chan has done a great job in researching. He showed his deep understanding of the historical events as well as the structure of the Hong Kong police force before and after the handover. But what’s more daunting is Chan’s ability to create a truly page-turner combining historical facts and entertaining elements of those Cop movies from the 80s and 90s. Yet the novel also demonstrates a sense of nostalgia, and touching the hearts of many in a time when Hong Kong is full of conflicts and uncertainties.

The novel is now available in Chinese and German at the Goethe-Library.