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April 2023: Kit Fan

Kit Fan is a poet, novelist and critic born and educated in Hong Kong before moving to the UK at 21. His first poetry collection, Paper Scissors Stone (2011), won the Hong Kong University International Poetry Prize. As Slow as Possible (2018) was a Poetry Book Society Recommendation and one of the Irish Times Books of the Year. He was shortlisted twice for the Guardian 4th Estate BAME Short Story Prize. He won the Northern Writers Awards for Fiction and for Poetry, the Times Stephen Spender Poetry Translation Prize, and Poetry Magazine Editors’ Prize for Reviewing. His debut novel is Diamond Hill (2021). The Ink Cloud Reader, his third poetry collection, has just been published by Carcanet. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature.

Bio from Carcanet

This month we're very pleased to feature poet and novelist Kit Fan, with two poems from his new collection The Ink Cloud Reader'How to be a Fern', and 'Hong Kong and the Echo'. Thank you to Kit and to Carcanet for allowing us to reprint them here!

In his disquieting third collection The Ink Cloud Reader, Kit Fan takes enormous risks linguistically, formally and visually to process the news of a sudden illness and the threat of mortality, set against the larger chaos of his beloved city Hong Kong and our broken planet. These shape-shifting poems are persistently sensitive to anxiety, and to beauty, questioning the turbulent climate of our time while celebrating the power of ink – of reading and writing.

We're also delighted that Kit will be joining us in Leeds on Thursday May 11th, at the historic Leeds Library, where he'll be reading from and discussing the collection, and there'll also be the chance to buy his books. Find out more and reserve a place here. (The event is free, and open to all).

As well as his three collections of poetry, Kit has also published the novel Diamond Hill (Dialogue, 2022).

1987, Hong Kong. Trying to outrun his demons, a young man who calls himself Buddha returns to the bustling place of his birth. He moves into a small Buddhist nunnery in the crumbling neighbourhood of Diamond Hill, where planes landing at the nearby airport fly so close overhead that travellers can see into the rooms of those below.

As Buddha begins to care for the nuns and their neighbours, this pocket of the old city is vanishing. Even the fiery Iron Nun cannot prevent the frequent landslides that threaten the nunnery she fights for, and in the nearby shanty town, a faded film actress who calls herself Audrey Hepburn is hiding a deep secret and trying to survive with her teenage daughter who has a bigger fish to fry.

But no one arrives in Diamond Hill by accident, and Buddha's ties to this place run deeper than he is willing to admit. Can he make peace with his past and survive in this disappearing city?

Reviewing the novel in The Guardian, Sharlene Teo writes that, 'With its themes of powerlessness, upheaval, colonialism and displacement, Diamond Hill feels especially timely in light of Hong Kong’s ongoing pro-democracy protests. Yet it is also a nostalgic and deeply evocative portrayal of 1980s Hong Kong, presenting a vivid snapshot of a city steeped in turf struggles, wealth disparities and socio-political tensions.'

If you'd like to find out more you can watch a video of a fascinating discussion between Kit and Jennifer Lau from the Toronto Public Library.

And in addition to his own writing, Kit also regularly reviews both poetry and fiction for a number of different media outlets. Links can be found on his website, including this fantastic review of Owlish, by our March featured author, Dorothy Tse 謝曉虹, translated by Natascha Bruce and recently published by Fitzcarraldo Editions.