Atlas : The Archaeology of an Imaginary City

3.68 (57 ratings by Goodreads)
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Set in the long-lost City of Victoria (a fictional world similar to Hong Kong), Atlas is written from the unified perspective of future archaeologists struggling to rebuild a thrilling metropolis. Divided into four sections-"Theory," "The City," "Streets," and "Signs"-the novel reimagines Victoria through maps and other historical documents and artifacts, mixing real-world scenarios with purely imaginary people and events while incorporating anecdotes and actual and fictional social commentary and critique. Much like the quasi-fictional adventures in map-reading and remapping explored by Paul Auster, Jorge Luis Borges, and Italo Calvino, Dung Kai-cheung's novel challenges the representation of place and history and the limits of technical and scientific media in reconstructing a history. It best exemplifies the author's versatility and experimentation, along with China's rapidly evolving literary culture, by blending fiction, nonfiction, and poetry in a story about succeeding and failing to recapture the things we lose.
Playing with a variety of styles and subjects, Dung Kai-cheung inventively engages with the fate of Hong Kong since its British "handover" in 1997, which officially marked the end of colonial rule and the beginning of an uncharted future.
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Product details

  • Hardback | 192 pages
  • 147.32 x 177.8 x 20.32mm | 294.83g
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • Reprint
  • 023116100X
  • 9780231161008
  • 139,869

Table of contents

Preface: An Archaeology for the Future, by Dung Kai-cheung Introduction, by Bonnie S. McDougall Part One: Theory 1. Counterplace 2. Commonplace 3. Misplace 4. Displace 5. Antiplace 6. Nonplace 7. Extraterritoriality 8. Boundary 9. Utopia 10. Supertopia 11. Subtopia 12. Transtopia 13. Multitopia 14. Unitopia 15. Omnitopia Part Two: The City 16. Mirage: City in the Sea 17. Mirage: Towers in the Air 18. Pottinger's Inverted Vision 19. Gordon's Jail 20. "Plan of the City of Victoria," 1889 21. The Four Wan and Nine Yeuk 22. The Centaur of the East 23. Scandal Point and the Military Cantonment 24. Mr. Smith's One-Day Trip 25. The View from Government House 26. The Toad of Belcher's Dream 27. The Return of Kwan Tai Loo 28. The Curse of Tai Ping Shan 29. War Game Part Three: Streets 30. Spring Garden Lane 31. Ice House Street 32. Sugar Street 33. Tsat Tsz Mui Road 34. Canal Road East and Canal Road West 35. Aldrich Street 36. Possession Street 37. Sycamore Street 38. Tung Choi Street and Sai Yeung Choi Street 39. Sai Yee Street 40. Public Square Street 41. Cedar Street Part Four: Signs 42. The Decline of the Legend 43. The Eye of the Typhoon 44. Chek Lap Kok Airport 45. The Metonymic Spectrum 46. The Elevation of Imagination 47. Geological Discrimination 48. North-Oriented Declination 49. The Travel of Numbers 50. The Tomb of Signs 51. The Orbit of Time Acknowledgments Author and Translators
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Review quote

Dung Kai-cheung's Atlas: The Archeology of an Imaginary City is a most unusual work in the history of modern Chinese literature: part fiction, part history, part theory-all in the service of the author's unique method of fictional 'archaeology,' an endeavor that has unearthed a wealth of materials-streets, buildings, personalities, names and signs, and marvels and legends-about this 'vanished' city, the traces of which constitute the sum total of Hong Kong's cultural memory. A cross between fact and fiction, history and mystery, Jorge Luis Borges and Italo Calvino, this work defies all generic categories and now stands as a contemporary classic. -- Leo Ou-fan Lee, author of City Between Worlds: My Hong Kong ...seamless, yet eccentric...a playful yet poignant invitation to begin layering new symbols and projections over the city's landscape. South China Morning Post Readers pleased by cliff-hanging, nail-biting, page-turning adventure will not be satisfied with "Atlas." Devotees of writers as curious as Borges, Calvino and Eco, will love this map of maps of an imaginary city.Japan Times -- David Cozy Japan Times Well worth the experiment. -- Peter Gordon Asian Review of Books
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About Kai-cheung Dung

Dung Kai-cheung 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 teaches part-time in several Hong Kong universities and writes novels and short stories in Chinese. His major fictional works include The Age of Apprenticeship; Histories of Time; Works and Creations; Paixoes Diagonais; P. E. Period; The Thousand and Second Night; The Exercise Book; A Brief History of the Silverfish; The Writing Adventure of Bui Bui; The Catalog; Visible Cities; The Rose of the Name; The Double Body; Androgyny: Evolution of a Nonexistent Species; The Workbook; My Old School in Memory; and The Album. Anders Hansson is chief editor of publications at the Macau Ricci Institute and the author of Chinese Outcasts: Discrimination and Emancipation in Late Imperial China. He studied Chinese at the University of Stockholm and later in Hong Kong and holds an M.A. from the School of Oriental and African Studies in London and a Ph.D. in history and East Asian languages from Harvard University. Bonnie S. McDougall is visiting professor of Chinese at the University of Sydney and professor emeritus at the University of Edinburgh. She has also taught at Harvard University, the University of Oslo, the Chinese University of Hong Kong, and the City University of Hong Kong. She has translated works by Bei Dao, Ah Cheng, Chen Kaige, Mao Zedong, and Leung Ping-kwan, among others. Her recent books include Translation Zones in Modern China: Authoritarian Command Versus Gift Exchange and Fictional Authors, Imaginary Audiences: Modern Chinese Literature in the Twentieth Century.
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Rating details

57 ratings
3.68 out of 5 stars
5 19% (11)
4 42% (24)
3 26% (15)
2 12% (7)
1 0% (0)
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