Severe weather no deterrent as 2,000 flock to see literary rebel

PUBLISHED : Friday, 23 July, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 23 July, 2010, 12:00am

The heavy rain proved no deterrent for 2,000 people who flocked to the Hong Kong Book Fair yesterday.

They were not lured to the Convention and Exhibition Centre by scantily clad pseudo-models - the draw card was a talk there by 27-year-old rebel mainland author, rally driver and blogger Han Han.

Before meeting the audience, Han met more than 100 media representatives from around the region.

The writer, named as one of the most influential people of 2009 by Time magazine, said that he earned his fame not because of his outspoken personality, but simply because of where he lived - the mainland.

Han jokingly said that he was thankful for his country. He told the media that after a mainland athlete thanked his country after winning a gold medal at the East Asian Games in Hong Kong last year he wanted to do the same. So, he once thanked his country before entering a race. 'But I crashed my car after saying that.'

The high school dropout and son of a Shanghai newspaperman said that he had many banned books at home. 'They are a driving force for a society to move forward,' he said.

Han said once he was offered the job of writing an advertorial piece, which would pay 10,000 yuan (HK$11,470) a word. 'Then I asked if I could write 10,000 words. If so, I could buy 10 Ferraris,' he said. 'But then I can't betray my writing, so I turned down the offer.'

One difficulty Han faces in common with Hong Kong youngsters is the over-priced property market. He said Hong Kong was such a small city and there would be no solution to the fact that young people could not afford to buy their homes. 'They are stuck with it,' he said of the twenty-something generation. 'This generation has no faith, and owning a home becomes their religion.'

Meanwhile, bigger discounts are being offered by exhibitors from the start of the fair, much earlier than last year. English-language books cost 65 per cent of their original price at Synergy Culture Enterprises. The same discount was offered only on the last two days of the fair last year, manager Tommy Au Hon-biu said.

Readers can enjoy a 35 per cent discount at Page One if they buy two books, compared with last year's 30 per cent, senior marketing executive Keith Wong Yiu-wing said. But Red Publish, publisher of pseudo-model Chrissie Chau Sau-na's photo book, which says it sold more than 1,000 copies in a day, does not plan to lower the HK120 price. 'If people are willing to buy the books without any discount, why should we offer any?' staff member Carissa Yiu said.