... pulsing ... Cheung writes eloquently about what it means to find your place in a city as it vanishes before your eyes ... Cheung is bracingly forthright about her depression and the difficulties of navigating a public health system that is often unaffordable and inaccessible ... There is an almost trancelike quality to her memories, of both dramatic and quiet moments ... Cheung’s critiques ring true...her derision for this faceless 'cosmopolitan' set is so scathing, her view that affluent, apolitical people overlook the real Hong Kong so transparent, that I found myself wanting to hear more from these people themselves ... Readers won’t find those views here; Cheung does not claim to represent anyone but herself. She drops Chinese characters in the text sometimes without translation or explanation. 'Maybe this isn’t the book you expected to read,' Cheung writes. That’s the point. For far too long, faraway interests have claimed to speak for Hong Kong. It’s time to let Hong Kongers, in all their multitudes, speak for themselves.
... characterized by a narrative style both intimate and candid. It’s hard to avoid being swept up by [Cheung's] story ... Her story is a welcome counterpart to narratives that portray Hong Kong as either as exotic or, more recently, as dystopian. Although she writes about various protest movements going back to 2003, also a year that was plagued by the deaths of Hong Kong icons Leslie Cheung and Anita Mui, she also, by merging memoir and observation, goes far beyond the issues that make international headlines.
Cheung spends little time on political analysis or colonial history ... But through her graceful writing, especially about her early years, we learn about Hong Kong’s many different worlds and social strata, and her struggles to find her place ... Her lyrical book is part diary and part love letter to her hometown ... [the book ends on] a bleak note.
... tragically juxtaposes the author’s severe depression with the disintegration of democracy in Hong Kong, depicting a heartrending destruction of Hongkongese cultural identity ... This is an outstanding contribution for any library about one personal experience of political upheaval in Hong Kong.
Cheung’s intimate memoir of Hong Kong explores what it means to live in and love a complicated city ... In Cheung’s hands, the problems, charms and complexities that characterize the city are illuminated with grace and intelligence. She refuses to write from a distance or cater to a white audience, dismissing the bland both-sidesism of modern journalism ... Cheung explores gentrification not just through statistics and citations but through a summary of the six different residences and 22 different roommates she lived with in just five years. An ongoing and citywide mental health crisis is discussed through her own struggle to access reliable psychiatric care. Most powerfully, The Impossible City asks how we can belong to and believe in a city and world that are frequently disappointing, and how we can continue to care about a future we may never see ... Cheung’s luminous memoir will appeal to both those familiar with Hong Kong and armchair travelers hoping to better understand the roots of the city’s political movements. Beyond that, The Impossible City will resonate with anyone who has struggled to love their city of residence in a time characterized by political dissent, racial strife and pandemic.
[A] moving account of a Millennial who watches the free and international city in which she was born and raised slowly devolve into an oppressed society. With bracing honesty, Cheung writes about growing up in a broken family, finding belonging in the Hong Kong indie music scene, and becoming one of the million or more people who took to the streets ... Impossible City is full of details about Hong Kong life not commonly known by American readers, from the way the city’s government keeps property prices artificially high to the 100-week waits for psychiatric appointments in the overloaded public health system ... a deeply felt lamentation about a flawed, yet free, society becoming subsumed by authoritarianism.
Hong Kong journalist Cheung pushes back mightily on those who think her hometown could be summed up in one tome...Yet English-language readers might not find a book that captures Hong Kong in such visceral detail and humanity as Cheung’s ... It’s a grim status report, to be sure, but Cheung doesn’t quite let go of hope for that extraordinary city.
... intimate ... Hong Kong is in dire straits, and Cheung brings us to the front lines to offer a clearer understanding of the circumstances ... A powerful memoir of love and anguish in a cold financial capital with an underbelly of vibrant, freedom-loving youth.
Cheung is best at delivering personal missives about city life...She also hauntingly captures the tumult of the city’s political protests ... The result is a riveting portrait of a place that’s as captivating as it is confounding.