Atlas

The Archaeology of an Imaginary City

Dung Kai-cheung. Translated by Dung Kai-cheung, Anders Hansson, and Bonnie S. McDougall

Columbia University Press

Atlas

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Pub Date: July 2012

ISBN: 9780231161008

192 Pages

Format: Hardcover

List Price: $27.00£20.00

Pub Date: July 2012

ISBN: 9780231504225

192 Pages

Format: E-book

List Price: $26.99£20.00

Atlas

The Archaeology of an Imaginary City

Dung Kai-cheung. Translated by Dung Kai-cheung, Anders Hansson, and Bonnie S. McDougall

Columbia University Press

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into four sections—"Theory," "The City," "Streets," and "Signs"—the novel reimagines Victoria through maps and other historical documents and artifacts, mixing real-world scenarios with purely imaginary people and events while incorporating anecdotes and actual and fictional social commentary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

For the past two decades, Dung Kai-cheung's voice has been the single most innovative on the Hong Kong literary scene, and Atlas stands as a bold and inventive attempt to reflect and fictionally reconstruct the former colony's past. The book is expertly translated and serves as a wonderful contribution to the limited body of contemporary Hong Kong literature available today in English translation.

Michael Berry, author of A History of Pain: Trauma in Modern Chinese Literature and Film and Speaking in Images: Interviews with Contemporary Chinese Filmmakers

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
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
Web Features:

2013 Best Translated Book Award Fiction, long form category