Lesbianism, Hello Kitty and China's untold history: Hong Kong Book Fair authors to spill the beans

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 24 June, 2014, 4:25am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 24 June, 2014, 4:25am

A Hong Kong-based Dutch historian who wrote an award-winning account of China under Mao Zedong , a Beijing-based American journalist who wrote of daily life in North Korea, a Taiwanese author who described lesbians' lives, and the mother of the world's most beloved cat will be among the guest speakers at this year's book fair.

In its 25th year, the Hong Kong Book Fair will include a record 570 exhibitors from 30 regions - with Saudi Arabia, Colombia, Israel and Kazakhstan represented for the first time.

"The scale of our book fair is among the greatest in Asia and the number of visitors possibly the most in the world," Benjamin Chau Kai-leung, acting executive director of the fair's organiser, the Trade Development Council, said yesterday.

Some 980,000 people visited the fair last year, a 3 per cent rise from 950,000 in the previous year. Chau hopes the number will exceed 1 million this year.

The exhibition runs at the Convention and Exhibition Centre between July 16 and 22.

Frank Dikötter, a University of Hong Kong history professor and author of Mao's Great Famine, which won Britain's Samuel Johnson Prize for non-fiction in 2011, is one of the speakers.

The Dutch historian will talk about his latest acclaimed book, The Tragedy of Liberation. It describes the first decade of the People's Republic of China as an era of "calculated terror and systematic violence".

Another speaker is veteran Los Angeles Times reporter and Beijing bureau chief Barbara Demick, whose book Nothing to Envy, describing ordinary lives in North Korea, won the Samuel Johnson Prize in 2010.

Taiwanese writer Chen Xue, whose works tell of the loves and lives of lesbians, will talk about her "two different worlds" as a novelist.

Yuko Yamaguchi, creator of Hello Kitty, will talk about her book Tears of Kitty, which recounts her experiences in designing the mouthless kitten.