An award-winning journalist and longtime Hong Konger indelibly captures the place, its people, and the untold history they are claiming, just as it is being erased.
The story of Hong Kong has long been dominated by competing myths: to Britain, a “barren rock” with no appreciable history; to China, a part of Chinese soil from time immemorial, at last returned to the ancestral fold. For decades, Hong Kong’s history was simply not taught, especially to Hong Kongers, obscuring its origins as a place of refuge and rebellion. When protests erupted in 2019 and were met with escalating suppression from Beijing, Louisa Lim—raised in Hong Kong as a half-Chinese, half-English child, and now a reporter who has covered the region for nearly two decades—realized that she was uniquely positioned to unearth the city’s untold stories.
Lim’s deeply researched and personal account casts startling new light on key moments: the British takeover in 1842, the negotiations over the 1997 return to China, and the future Beijing seeks to impose. Indelible City features guerrilla calligraphers, amateur historians and archaeologists, and others who, like Lim, aim to put Hong Kongers at the center of their own story. Wending through it all is the King of Kowloon, whose iconic street art both embodied and inspired the identity of Hong Kong—a site of disappearance and reappearance, power and powerlessness, loss and reclamation.
Louisa Lim is the author of The People’s Republic of Amnesia: Tiananmen Revisited, which was shortlisted for the Orwell Prize and the Helen Bernstein Book Award for Excellence in Journalism. She covered China and Hong Kong for more than two decades as a correspondent for the BBC and NPR, and has also written for The New York Times, The Washington Post, and The Guardian. Raised in Hong Kong, she lives in Australia with her two children and teaches at the University of Melbourne.