The Kowloon Kid

The Kowloon Kid

A Hong Kong Childhood

From the author of Travels with My Angst and Any Guru Will Do a vivid, nostalgic, and funny memoir of growing up in Hong Kong in the 1960s.

Phil Brown's life begins in small town Australia – Maitland, NSW, to be precise – but in 1963 his father Ted hankers to return to the Hong Kong of his childhood and to cash in on a construction boom in the burgeoning colony.

Then under British rule, the world of Hong Kong is a truly fascinating place for gweilos or foreigners, both a colonial outpost and a region redolent with all the exoticism and contradictions of the Far East. The Brown's home, in the garden suburb of Kowloon Tong, buzzes with characters: the family's amah, Ah Moy, frequent visitors such as the inscrutable Mr Lai, the spy-like Tony Parr, and family members such as Uncle Cyril. Not to mention the kid from across the road, Michael Hutchence.

Combining recent visits to Hong Kong, where the author explores his childhood touchstones of the Kowloon Cricket Club, the beach at Shek O, the Peninsula Hotel and the bustling lanes of Kowloon, with an affectionate yet truly honest portrait of family, self and the 1960s The Kowloon Kid is an intimate and tender gem.

Phil Brown is Arts Editor of The Courier-Mail and has a popular column in the lifestyle magazine Brisbane News. He has written for a range of national and international newspapers and magazines and has published his poetry widely in the mainstream press and literary journals. He is the author of two books of verse - Plastic Parables (Metro Community Press) and An Accident in the Evening (Interactive Press). His book of humorous travel stories, Travels with My Angst (UQP, 2004) was short-listed for the Arts Queensland Steele Rudd Award at the 2005 Queensland Premier's Literary Awards. Any Guru Will Do (UQP 2006) was the second in his memoir series. From 1963 to 1970 he lived in Hong Kong where his father ran a construction company. He lives in Brisbane's north with his wife Sandra McLean, son Hamish and a Maltese Shi Tzu called Sarge.

The Kowloon Kid: A Hong Kong Childhood
Transit Lounge Publishing
Author: Phil Brown
ISBN: 9781925760361
RRP: $29.99

Interview with Phil Brown

Question: What inspired you to write The Kowloon Kid?

Phil Brown: I have been writing shorter pieces about Hong Kong for decades and wanted to enshrine all that in a book form. My inspiration is always that I love Hong Kong and that I want to share that love. But how to present it? I decided to use recent experiences as well as family history to make it a richer read. At least I hope it's richer!


Question: What message do you hope readers take from The Kowloon Kid?

Phil Brown: I guess I just want them to be interested in the subject matter but in a way I also want them to value childhood as this very special experience which shapes one's future. I hope there is also a message about how precious memory is and how the past is, to quote the author, not even past really.


Question: What was it like spending that time of your life in Hong Kong?

Phil Brown: It was like living in a magical world. Of course for us it was privileged and maybe I should feel guilty about that but I don't. As exotic as it was it was normal for us so we didn't realise how lucky we were. But I realise that now and I am grateful.


Question: What's next, for you?

Phil Brown: I have a number of ideas including a sequel about moving from Hong Kong to the Gold Coast. That book is to be called I Was A Teenage Surf Rat. I am also planning a novella about a young man who spends time holed up in a private hospital by the sea. As an old man he is looking back and finds his time in hospital was the best days of his life!

Interview by Brooke Hunter

The Kowloon Kid: A Hong Kong Childhood 
Transit Lounge Publishing
Author: Phil Brown
ISBN: 9781925760361 
RRP: $29.99 




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