While hardly a rarity, Gaetano Donizetti’s comic opera L’Elisir d’Amore (The Elixir of Love) doesn’t usually rank in popularity with the likes of Aida, La Bohème or Carmen. But after a performance such as that which acted as the curtain-raiser for the Macau International Music Festival, it can be hard to understand why not. Effortlessly enjoyable, the work also contains passages of aching beauty and contains more insights into human nature than its rom-com surface would let on.

In the early-1990s, a new area of Shenzhen sprung up almost overnight: er nai cun, or second wives’ village. At that time, businessmen from Hong Kong began to work over the border as the manufacturing industry moved from industrial areas of Kowloon to the Special Economic Zone of Shenzhen. Not only were low wage jobs disappearing in Hong Kong, but Deng Xiaoping promoted capitalism in his 1992 tour of southern China, including a stop in Shenzhen.

No Third Person: Rewriting the Hong Kong Story, Christine Loh and Richard Cullen (Abbreviated Press, October 2018)
No Third Person: Rewriting the Hong Kong Story, Christine Loh and Richard Cullen (Abbreviated Press, October 2018)

British Hong Kong had a good story in the run-up to 1997. Its people worked hard and had an indomitable spirit. China had its own story about Hong Kong: after reunification, the city would prosper as never before due to China’s wise and pragmatic “one country, two systems” policy.

Reviewing a book that has been banned in its author’s native country presents certain challenges as well as certain obligations as in the case of celebrated Chinese novelist Yan Lianke’s The Day the Sun Died, his latest book to appear in English translation (the Chinese original was published in 2015). In his translator’s introduction, Carlos Rojas sees in Joyce’s Ulysses a literary antecedent to Yan’s novel based on their contested reception histories, shared thematic content, and similar narrative strategies.

Monsoon on the Fingers of God, Sasenarine Persaud (Mawenzi House, July 2018)
Monsoon on the Fingers of God,
Sasenarine Persaud (Mawenzi House, July 2018)

Using the 2014 Scottish referendum to separate from the UK as a touchstone, this book examines the fluidity of identity and tensions regarding languages and belonging in a modern, global world where peoples, ideas and cultures migrate and interact on a scale never before seen in human history.