City of the Queen

A Novel of Colonial Hong Kong


Shih Shu-Ching

ISBN : 978-962-209-911-1

Literary Studies

April 2008

308 pages, 6″ x 9″

For sale in the Greater China area (Hong Kong, the Mainland, Macao, Taiwan) and Singapore only

  • HK$150.00

Throughout its history, Hong Kong has been steeped in drama, intrigue, and seismic social shifts. Shih Shu-ching sets her epic tale of one beautiful and determined woman’s family amid this rich and colorful history, capturing in vivid, panoramic detail the unique tensions and atmosphere that characterize the city. Critically praised and long popular in the Chinese-speaking world, City of the Queen is now available for the first time in English.

After being kidnapped from her home in rural China, Huang, the novel’s heroine, is brought to Hong Kong and sold into prostitution. Thanks to her shrewd, sometimes devious business dealings and unexpected twists of fate, she emerges from these cruel beginnings to become a wealthy landowner. City of the Queen follows the fortunes of Huang’s family, including those of her devoutly Christian daughter-in-law, her grandson, who becomes the first Chinese judge on the Hong Kong Supreme Court; and her great-granddaughter who turns her back on family tradition to revel in the pleasures offered by the 1970s and 1980s metropolis.

The novel introduces a range of other Chinese and British characters, examining the complicated relationships between colonizer and colonized in a searing and perceptive portrayal of colonialism.

A longtime resident of Hong Kong, Shih Shu-Ching was writer-in-residence in the Department of English at Tung-hua University and her novels have won numerous awards and been translated into many languages. Her works included The Barren Years, Passing by Loytsin, and Blush of Intoxication. The translators, Howard Goldblatt and Sylvia Li-chun Lin, teach in the Department of East Asian Languages at the University of Notre Dame. Their previous collaborative efforts include the translation of Yung-p’ing Li’s Retribution: The Jiling Chronicles and Chu T’ien-wen’s Notes of a Desolate Man, selected as “Translation of the Year” by the American Literary Translators Association.

City of the Queen is about a legendary woman whose life, and the miracles filling it, are intertwined with the tortuous history of Hong Kong’s colonial era. The imminent event of the 1997 Handover, looming large in the book in the form of an anxiety that cannot be dispelled, inevitably imbues it with a strong sense of history. Witnessing an epoch coming to an end, the author contemplates issues of race, gender, and human fate that profoundly complicate the life of the novel’s protagonist as well as that of every other Hong Kong resident.” —Sung-sheng Yvonne Chang, University of Texas, author of Literary Culture in Taiwan: Martial Law to Market Law

“A sensual retelling of Madama Butterfly and The World of Suzie Wong, this fascinating colonial drama of sex and economy stretches from the British occupation of Hong Kong to the eve of its return to China. City of the Queen is beautifully translated and is a must read for postcolonial scholars.” —Ping-hui Liao, National Tsinghua University, Taiwan