Review Blog

Aug 12 2019

The Kowloon kid: a Hong Kong childhood by Phil Brown

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Transit Lounge, 2019. ISBN: 9781925760361.
(Age: Adult) Non-fiction. Memoir. Phil Brown looks back with great fondness on his youth growing up in Hong Kong during the 1960s. His English grandfather Lord Roberts Brown first established the family business, a construction company, back in the 1930s, and his son, Phil Brown's father, continued it. Although Brown himself had no interest in engineering, the city itself forever has a pull on his heart, particularly the Kowloon district. Many subsequent visits have continued his ties to the place, each time an opportunity to revisit the scenes of his childhood.
He tells the stories with more than a little humour, stories of colonial type hotels, the cricket club and larger than life characters, but in the background we are aware of a parallel world where aloof Chinese nannies and drivers fulfil their duties, with little to no insight into their lives. There were just the bodies washing up in the harbour reminding of the nearby threat of Communist China.
It was a unique childhood, one shared with Michael Hutchence no less! The book is a memoir of a special time in a city that is changing fast, but still the sights and smells, and the exotic magic linger on. Travellers to Hong Kong will enjoy this book.
Helen Eddy

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