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City Between Worlds

City Between Worlds

My Hong Kong

Leo Ou-fan Lee

ISBN 9780674056602

Publication date: 09/01/2010

Hong Kong is perched on the fault line between China and the West, a Special Administrative Region of the PRC. Leo Ou-fan Lee offers an insider’s view of Hong Kong, capturing the history and culture that make his densely packed home city so different from its generic neighbors.

The search for an indigenous Hong Kong takes Lee to the wet markets and corner bookshops of congested Mong Kok, remote fishing villages and mountainside temples, teahouses and noodle stalls, Cantonese opera and Cantopop. But he also finds the “real” Hong Kong in a maze of interconnected shopping malls, a jungle of high-rise residential towers, and the neon glow of Chinese-owned skyscrapers in the Central Business District, where land development, global trade, capital accumulation, consumerism, and free-market competition trump every value—except family.

Lee illuminates the relationship between Hong Kong’s geography and its colonial experience, revisiting colonial life on the secluded Peak, in the opium-filled godowns along the harborfront, and in crowded, plague-infested tenements. He examines, with a critic’s eye, the “Hong Kong story” in film and fiction: romance in the bars and brothels of Wan Chai, crime in the walled city of Kowloon, ennui on the eve of the 1997 handover.

Whether viewed from Tsing Yi Bridge or the deck of the Star Ferry, from Victoria Peak or Lion Rock, Hong Kong sparkles here in all its multifaceted complexity, a city forever between worlds.


  • A rich and fascinating introduction to the life and cultural history of Hong Kong, City Between Worlds will add considerable depth, excitement, and, dare I say, glamour to the material available to readers interested in learning something about Hong Kong beyond a guide to the usual tourist traps. Leo Lee draws on his knowledge of Hong Kong's literary, film, and popular culture, along with his personal experiences, to make these places imaginatively inhabited by the past, and by a people who continue to draw on the city's multifaceted history.

    —Meaghan Morris, Professor of Cultural Studies, Lingnan University (Hong Kong)


  • Leo Ou-fan Lee is Professor Emeritus of Chinese Literature at Harvard University and Professor of Humanities at The Chinese University of Hong Kong.

Book Details

  • Belknap Press

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