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Atlas: The Archaeology of an Imaginary City

Dung Kai-cheung

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July, 2012
Cloth, 192 pages,
ISBN: 978-0-231-16100-8
$24.50 / £17.00

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into four sections—“Theory,” “The City,” “Streets,” and “Signs”—the novel reimagines Victoria through maps and other historical documents and artifacts, mixing real-world scenarios with purely imaginary people and events while incorporating anecdotes and actual and fictional social commentary and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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About the Author

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; Paixões 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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