Why This Book Should Win the BTBA 2013: "Atlas" by Dung Kai-Cheung
Why this book should win the Best Translated Book Award for 2013:
1. It’s not Jackie Chan. From Kai-Cheung’s introduction: "There are enough fictitious Hong Kongs circulating around the world. It doesn’t matter so much how real or false these fictions are but how they are made up ... I am not claiming that literature represents a Hong Kong more real than the movies, but it has its unique role and methods and thus yields different meanings. It is not just a different way of world-representing but also a different way of world-building, that is, creating conditions for understanding, molding, preserving, and changing the world that we live in."
2. It’s like Calvino plus Borges... At first glance, Atlas sounds a lot like Calvino’s Invisible Cities with a touch of the Borges
3. ... except that it’s not. it’s also something quite different and all of its own. (The titles Dung’s other novels make these influences even more obvious: The Rose of the Name and Visible Cities.) At times, this is more cerebral and heady than Calvino’s work, which makes this even more interesting.
4. It’s written in Cantonese and Mandarin. ... this book is originally written in Mandarin with some Cantonese expressions. This mix occurs in other works of Hong Kong literature, but may also be why it’s not accepted as readily by mainland China.