The History of the Adventures of Vivi and Vera by Dung Kai-cheung
The History of the Adventures of Vivi and Vera
Written by Dung Kai-cheung under the Inspiration of the Ancient Chinese Treatise Celestial Creations and the Works of Man
Dung Kai-cheung 董啟章
translated by Yau Wai-ping
Paperback, 508 Pages
Publication date June 2018
Award-winning author Dung Kai-cheung weaves together two inventive narratives in this remarkable book. One is the story of a novelist who recounts his family’s history against the backdrop of Hong Kong’s development from the 1930s to the 1990s. Dung builds this story through vignettes about the protagonist’s relationship with technological inventions that shaped his life, as glimpsed through his uncertain memory and family myths. Running parallel to this is a rebellion by the novelist’s oppressed fictional characters, who attempt to break the yoke of servile obedience laid upon them by the conventions of novel-writing. The central character, Vivi, has been written into being by the author and, once created, she seems to take on a life of her own and moves from being fabricated to being real, even bravely undertaking the journey to meet her creator—the novelist—in the real world. Fantasy and realism combine to suggest that crossing boundaries is inherent part of our nature.
Praise for The History of the Adventures of Vivi and Vera
“Dung Kai-cheung is the most important writer of contemporary Hong Kong. Since the end of the last century, his work has constituted an alternative history of Hong Kong: the city’s splendor and dilemma, its fantastic metamorphoses and uncanny fate. The History of the Adventures of Vivi and Vera represents Dung at his best. The novel chronicles the changes and continuities of Hong Kong in the final decades of colonial rule, and projects a futuristic vision in which postcolonial nostalgia meets postmodernist fantasia, and family romance begets science fantasy. Above all, Dung seeks to inscribe Hong Kong as fiction, and celebrate the power of creativity that is Hong Kong.”
—David Der-wei Wang, Edward C. Henderson Professor of Chinese Literature at Harvard University
“Dung Kai-cheung is Hong Kong’s most prolific and innovative contemporary novelist. His work is at once playful and challenging, brilliant and imaginative, and filled with a sense of mystery and discovery. The first volume in Dung’s acclaimed ‘Natural History’ trilogy, The History of the Adventures of Vivi and Vera is nothing short of a qishu, or ‘book of wonder.’ Freely navigating different times and spaces, people and objects, autobiographies and fictions, Dung Kai-cheung has written a new allegory for our troubled times.”
—Michael Berry, Professor of Contemporary Chinese Cultural Studies at UCLA, author of Speaking in Images and A History of Pain
Dung Kai-cheung (董啟章) was born in Hong Kong in 1967 and received his B.A. and M.Phil. in comparative literature from the University of Hong Kong. He is the author of more than twenty books in Chinese, mainly fiction. He has won numerous literary awards, including the Unitas Fiction Writing Award for New Writers, the United Daily News Literary Award for the Novel, the Award for Best Artist (Literary Arts) in 2007/2008 from the Hong Kong Arts Development Council, and Author of the Year of the Hong Kong Book Fair in 2014. His first work translated into English, Atlas: The Archaeology of an Imaginary City, won the Best Translated Work Award at the Science Fiction & Fantasy Translation Awards (2013). An English translation of his work, Cantonese Love Stories, was published last year by Penguin China.
Yau Wai-ping is Associate Professor of Translation at Hong Kong Baptist University. In addition to translations of Chinese fiction and poetry, he has published widely on Chinese cinema, including works on Wong Kar-wai and Pema Tseden.More info
Creating Across Cultures by Michelle Vosper
This collection of profiles celebrates the artistic achievements of sixteen visionary women from a region of surprisingly diverse cultures despite their geographical proximity. From literary figures like Nieh Hualing and dance icons like Yang Meiqi, to bold contemporary artists Yin Xiuzhen and Lulu Hou, their creativity covers a wide range of literary, visual and performing arts. These courageous women often had to defy cultural expectations in order to heed their artistic drive. Their artworks delve into the social realities of their times, and their personal stories provide an intimate portrait of the historical trajectory of Greater China over three generations. Written by journalists and scholars with deep knowledge of the arts in Asia, and richly illustrated with images of art and historical events, the collection reveals the vibrance of women’s art in the region.
The profiled artists:
NIEH HUALING, born in Wuhan, China, is the author of more than two dozen books of fiction, critical essays and English translations. In 1967, along with her husband Paul Engle, she established the University of Iowa’s International Writing Program, which was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize in 1976.
LIAO WEN is an arts writer, critic and curator, whose unerring eye for emerging artists and trends helped to shape Chinese contemporary art. She curated one of the earliest exhibitions of Chinese women’s contemporary art (in 1995) and introduced a pioneering Chinese look at feminism in art with her book No More Nice Girls (2002).
CANDACE CHONG is a prolific, award-winning Hong Kong playwright, whose timely plays have captured the essence of the sui generis Hong Kong identity. Written in Cantonese, her works have resonated deeply with a new generation of theatergoers in Hong Kong.
YIN XIUZHEN is a leading contemporary artist in China whose installations have been exhibited in major museums across the world. Using recycled materials, she explores issues of globalization and seeks to preserve a memory of disappearing lifestyles resulting from excessive urbanization and development.
CHOI YAN CHI is an installation artist, painter, educator and cultural advocate, who has helped to build contemporary art in Hong Kong for more than thirty years. She was a pioneer of new art forms, from installation to cross-media performance, and founded one of the city’s first independent art spaces.
LULU HOU is a conceptual artist, scholar and educator, whose works raise awareness about the realities of marginalized people in Taiwan society. In recent years she has expanded her portfolio to include the preservation of architectural and cultural heritage in southern Taiwan.
JAFFA LAM is a Hong Kong artist who specializes in the creation of large-scale, site-specific works, mixed-media sculptures and installations, usually made with salvaged materials such as crate wood, old furniture and recycled fabric. Lam’s art involves and reflects strong elements of community, connection and collaborative processes.
YANG LINA is an award-winning filmmaker based in Beijing. A pioneer among contemporary Chinese directors, her unflinching documentaries have illuminated the plights of China’s marginalized, including women, children and the elderly.
BUN-CHING LAM is one of a growing number of Chinese women composers who are active on the international stage. A daughter of Macau, she is a passionate student of Chinese art, literature and aesthetics. Lam’s music is beyond East or West, dissolving boundaries to become an art that is truly representative of today’s interconnected world.
WANG XINXIN is a master performer of the musical genre called Nanguan. Originally from Fujian, she founded the Xinxin Nanguan Ensemble in Taipei in 2003 and performs traditional repertoire as well as contemporary adaptations of Chinese poetry and Buddhist sutra.
TIAN MANSHA is a master performer of chuanju (Sichuan opera) and a creator, teacher and director of xiqu, or traditional Chinese opera forms. Her repertoire includes classical pieces, Shakespeare adaptations, contemporary commissions and avant-garde xiqu works.
WU NA is a virtuoso performer and teacher of the guqin, an ancient stringed instrument that dates back nearly 3,000 years. Her personal and musical mission is to create a contemporary voice for the guqin, one that has relevance in today’s China and beyond, while still preserving the instrument’s core spiritual and aesthetic values.
YANG MEIQI, a renowned dance artist and educator, established China’s first modern dance troupe, the Guangdong Modern Dance Company, in 1992. Yang, who has been called the “Mother of Modern Dance in China,” nurtured the first and second generations of modern dance choreographers in China and is the leading force behind modern dance education.
PISUI CIYO is an award-winning choreographer, performer and educator born into the Atayal tribe in Taiwan. Her works of multimedia dance theater combine traditional indigenous art forms with Flamenco and modern performance art to create an expression of the contemporary indigenous artist.
MUI CHEUK YIN, a modern dance choreographer based in Hong Kong, is one of the leading dance-makers in East Asia today. She performed as principal dancer with the Hong Kong Dance Company for a decade and has created more than fifty works for ensembles in Asia, Europe and North America.
WEN HUI is a choreographer, actor, documentary filmmaker and founder of Living Dance Studio, which became China’s first independent dance theater collective in 1994. She has choreographed more than twenty groundbreaking multimedia productions that have toured the world.
The Kite Family by Hon Lai-chu
A patient escapes from an asylum to spend his life as the perfect mannequin in a store display; a luckless man transforms himself into a chair so people can, literally, sit on him; after living alone is outlawed, a woman who resides quietly with her cat is assigned a role in an artificial “family.” These are just a few of the inhabitants of Hon Lai-chu’s stories, where surreal characters struggle to carve out space for freedom and individuality in an absurd world. The Chinese version of The Kite Family won the New Writer’s Novella first prize from Taiwan’s Unitas Literary Association, was selected as one of the Top 10 Chinese Novels Worldwide, and was awarded a Translation Grant from the U.S. National Endowment for the Arts.More info
Snow and Shadow by Dorothy Tse
Dorothy Tse’s stories often start on a note of innocence, but an abrupt twist invariably brings us up short: dreamscapes descend and the pages become populated with ever-weirder characters. Strange occurrences are juxtaposed in ways that confound logical expectations. These stories are not for the faint-hearted—violence and sensuality abound. Limbs, even heads, are lopped off with regularity. Yet scenes can be so outrageous that we find ourselves laughing. Tse’s bold narrative experiments leave us alternately beguiled and deeply unsettled.More info
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