cover image Diamond Hill

Diamond Hill

Kit Fan. World Editions, $16.99 trade paper (304p) ISBN 978-1-64286-088-7

Fan’s evocative debut portrays a Hong Kong in transition. In the 1980s, recovering heroin addict Buddha returns to Hong Kong from Bangkok at the urging of Daishi, an old Thai monk who helped him get clean. Daishi directs him to stay with the nuns of a small monastery in shantytown Diamond Hill. There, Buddha befriends a teenage gang leader employed by the Triad to run heroin distribution in the neighborhood, and Audrey Hepburn, a prostitute lost in the area’s glamorous past, when Bruce Lee movies were filmed there. The novel’s tension hinges on the redevelopment set to take place as the era of British control comes to a close (as one character puts it, “The whole city is in a state of violent change, moving from one regime we are used to loathing, to another one we are loath to get used to”). When Buddha finds out that the head of the monastery plans to allow the neighborhood to be destroyed, he questions what is truly worth saving. Fan brings poetic language and moving tributes to descriptions of the lost neighborhood (“Why couldn’t a paradise be built out of scrapped wood, cheap metal, and cast-offs...?”). As the characters try to flee their unhappy pasts, the novel’s aching beauty makes an effective argument for remembering. [em]Agent: Matthew Turner, RCW Literary. (May) [/em]