Throughout the years, authors have penned novels and other works of fiction set in Hong Kong, from spy thrillers to historical romances. We’ve rounded up 10 of our favourites

1. The Piano Teacher by Janice Y.K. Lee

This global bestseller tells the story of British expat Claire Pendelton, who moves to Hong Kong in the 1950s with her husband. After being hired by a rich Chinese couple, the Chens, to give piano lessons to their daughter, she begins an affair with the family driver, Englishman Will Truesdale. The novel flits between this love story and an earlier affair Truesdale had in the '40s, taking the reader through World War II and the Japanese occupation.

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2. The Bourne Supremacy by Robert Ludlum

The book that gives the 2004 Matt Damon action movie its name might feature a completely different plot, but its no less thrilling than its cinematic counterpart. The second in Ludlum's Bourne trilogy is set during the time of the Sino-British Joint Declaration and sees its titular character travelling from his native USA to Hong Kong in order to rescue his kidnapped wife, getting tangled in a conflict between Mainland China and the CIA along the way.


3. The World Of Suzie Wong by Richard Mason

Having been adapted into a film, a play, and even a ballet since it was first published in 1957, The World of Suzie Wong is centred around the relationship between British artist Robert Lomax, who visits Hong Kong to seek inspiration for his paintings, and sex worker Suzie Wong, who Lomax meets when he checks into a hotel without realising that it doubles as a brothel.

4. The Honourable Schoolboy by John le Carre

This book is part of le Carré's series of spy novels featuring British intelligence officer George Smiley, and is the sequel to Tinker, Sailor, Soldier, Spy, which inspired an award-winning film of the same name. The Honourable Schoolboy sees Smiley dispatching fellow spy Jerry Westerby to Hong Kong as part of a bid to save their intelligence service from being dismantled by the government.

See also: Editors' Picks: 9 Books To Read This Summer

5. The World of Lily Wong by Larry Feign

Penned by award-winning writer and artist Larry Feign, whose work has been published by the likes of Time, The New York Times, and The Economist, The World of Lily Wong is a collection of comics that take a tongue-in-cheek look at life in Hong Kong in the 1990s—often commenting on political and social issues in the process—with the titular Lily Wong at the forefront.

6. A Many-Splendoured Thing by Han Suyin

Written by Eurasian author Han Suyin, who lived in various countries in Europe and Asia—including Hong Kong—throughout her life, A Many-Splendoured Thing is a semi-autobiographical work that follows British foreign correspondent Mark Elliot who falls in love with the Eurasian doctor Suyin. It also looks at how Hong Kong society dealt with the aftermath of the Chinese Civil War, as well as the various race and class prejudices of the 1950s.


7. Love In A Fallen City by Eileen Chang

Chang's Chinese language stories—which she wrote both in her native Mainland China and in the USA, where she immigrated in the 1950s—were widely popular throughout China and Taiwan. Love in a Fallen City sees a collection of six of Chang's stories translated into English for the first time. Its titular story, set in 1940s Hong Kong and Shanghai, sees divorcee Bai Liusu and her new suitor Fan Liuyuan navigating family drama and other trials while realising their mutual love for each other.


8. White Ghost Girls by Alice Greenway

The debut novel of Alice Greenway sees two American teenage sisters, Frankie and Kate, growing up and apart in 1960s Hong Kong against the backdrop of the Chinese communist revolution and the Vietnam War. As Frankie rebels for attention and Kate becomes increasingly more withdrawn, the two find themselves drawn together again as events in their lives reach a crisis point.

9. Tai-Pan by James Clavell

In the aftermath of the Opium War and Hong Kong's acquisition by the British, two former colleagues, Dirk Struan and Tyler Brock, find themselves in a heated business rivalry as both vie to become a "tai-pan", or powerful foreign business head, of their respective trading companies. The novel reveals the backstory of each man as their competition becomes increasingly more dire and destructive.

10. Kowloon Tong by Paul Theroux

Penned by American novelist and travel writer Paul Theroux, Kowloon Tong follows Hong Kong born Englishman Neville "Bunt" Mullard and his family during the days leading up to the 1997 Handover, when a suspicious man from Mainland China, Mr Hung, makes an offer for Mullard's family textile business, threatening Mullard with blackmail if he refuses.

See also: 10 Books Hong Kong Tatler Editors Are Reading Right Now

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