About the book
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.
Remember, this morning is the first day. Don’t be late. The enrollment documents are on the dinner table. There you’ll find the school address. I talked to you about this last time. You should know the way. I wanted to take you to the first day of school but I have to work all night and can’t get back in time. Terribly sorry about that. Learn to look after yourself. There’s bread on the table. Half for breakfast and the other half for lunch at school. There’s milk in the fridge. See you tonight!