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Gweilo: Memories of a Hong Kong Childhood by…

Gweilo: Memories of a Hong Kong Childhood

by Martin Booth

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2471246,499 (3.96)17



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Loved this biography of a childhood spent in Hong Kong in the 1950s. Booth's writing is excellent, his memories are sharp and he avoids easy nostalgia. I loved his vivid portrayal of Hong Kong. So much is still here to be experienced, but sadly, not the beloved Russian cake shop. ( )
  tippycanoegal | Apr 1, 2013 |
Ho! Ho! ( )
  Faradaydon | Feb 1, 2013 |
How Brits can become integrated in another culture as opposed to his father who stays a foreigner/colonialist. ( )
  ChuTrandinh | Nov 24, 2011 |
"Gweilo" is Martin Booth's memoir about his childhood in Hong Kong, when his father was stationed there as a British Naval officer in the 1950s. From his point of view, the book speak of various cultural adventures him and his mother encounter as they settle in and live in Hong Kong.

Booth is an astute observer, and his descriptions embody both an incredible eye for detail and a good sense of humor. As such, his memoir is a pleasure to read, even if it's just a collage of small events and day to day life. ( )
  jasonli | Jul 15, 2011 |
Gweilo means 'White Man" in Cantonese. This is the memoir of a young British boy named Mah-Tin who spent some of his formative years in the post-WWII colony of Hong Kong in the 1950s when he was 8 -10 years of age. Martin was precocious and observant. His unbounded curiousity lead him into areas of Hong Kong where foreigners weren't usually welcomed. He experienced the contrast of cultures on his daily escapes from his upscale apartment to squatter's shanties, opium dens, and the seamier side streets where prostitutes and unscrupulous merchants accepted him because of the good luck that his golden hair brought them.

This was a time when children had more freedom, especially in Martin's case where his parents were so intent on their bickering that he was largely ignored. I didn't enjoy that part of the story, although it was his reality and he thought nothing of the fact that his mother was blatantly turning him against his father with the constant belittling and nasty comments. He made the most of a situation that allowed him free rein in a land that he loved.

If you have an interest in learning about this area in a bygone time, I recommend this book with its simple but detailed look at Hong Kong before it became a cosmopolitan city. ( )
  Donna828 | Jan 31, 2011 |
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for Helen, Alex and Emma, with love and in memory of my mother, Joyce, a true China Hand
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Fifty feet below, my grandparents stood side by side.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0553816721, Paperback)

Evocative, funny and full of life, this is a beautifully observed childhood memoir of growing up in colonial Hong Kong in the 1950s.

As an inquisitive seven-year-old, Martin Booth found himself with the whole of Hong Kong at his feet when his father was posted there in the early 1950s. Unrestricted by parental control, he had free access to hidden corners of the colony normally closed to a Gweilo, a “pale fellow” like him. Befriending rickshaw coolies and local stallholders, he learned Cantonese, sampled delicacies such as boiled water beetles and one-hundred-year-old eggs, and participated in colourful festivals. He even entered the forbidden Kowloon Walled City, wandered into the secret lair of the Triads and visited an opium den. Along the way he encountered a colourful array of people, from the plink plonk man with his dancing monkey to Nagasaki Jim, a drunken child molester, and the Queen of Kowloon, the crazed tramp who may have been a member of the Romanov family.

Shadowed by the unhappiness of his warring parents, a broad-minded mother who, like her son, was keen to embrace all things Chinese, and a bigoted father who was enraged by his family’s interest in “going native,” Martin Booth’s compelling memoir is a journey into Chinese culture and an extinct colonial way of life that glows with infectious curiosity and humour.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:09:36 -0400)

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An account of the author's coming-of-age in 1950s Hong Kong describes his experiences of early adolescence as a British citizen in a Chinese society and the conflicts between his Chinese-embracing mother and bigoted father.

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