The excitement of the first book

City talk | 20 Jul 2017

The afternoon gathering of the eight winners of the Young Writers' Debut Competition was a joyful occasion.

The young authors have been working hard to perfect their works with the help of the judging panel after their entries were selected in the first round six months ago. Their books will debut at the Hong Kong Book Fair opening this week.

For young writers, getting published for the first time is exciting and encouraging.

Winner Michelle Fung Kuen-suet - author of Tian Kong Jiao Yu, or World of Plastic - is a visual artist. She writes descriptions of her artworks in English, so she "had to rediscover my feeling of Chinese writing" when she started on the book.

"I reread Kenneth Pai Hsien-yung's works to soak in the magic of his prose before starting to create the surreal story in World of Plastic," she said.

Another winning work is Zheng Que De Cuo Wu , or The Right Wrongs, by Woodwork, the pen name of Vincent, who covered his face with the book when his picture was being taken, as he preferred to remain faceless to the world so he could write without inhibition.

His book is a collection of seven short stories on contemplation of life. "I talked about the clash between fate and free will, explore the question of whether you had to let go to get happiness. And if memory brings pain, would you be happy if you forget?"

The Right Wrongs is a paradox, "an exploration of the interplay between fate and choices."

Fung talked about her creative process. "It was July 2014, and I was in Tai O. One night my mind came up with this question: in what manner should mankind co-exist with nature and whether our survival depends on marine ecology?"

She first expressed her ideas on these issues with installation art before putting them in writing, which became World of Plastic, the story of a land- bound girl and a sea-dwelling thousand- year-old turtle in 2050.

The competition is co-organized by the SHKP Reading Club and Joint Publishing (Hong Kong). Other winning entries are Circles of Friends by RedTeeth; Prime Time for Books and Letters by Yung Ching-shui; Self- discovery by Kristy Hon and Jenny Ling; Tokyo: Dream and Life by Jane Luk Pui-ling; Old Bookstores in Hong Kong by Kelvin Wong Hiu-nam; and The Locker by Zia Zheng.

Terence Chang Cheuk-cheung is the retired headmaster of Diocesan Boys School

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