Delivered by Albert Wan at Bleak House Books in San Po Kong, Kowloon, Hong Kong, on 17 September 2021 for LOVE: A Reading, organized by Cha: Asian Literary Journal (https://www.asiancha.com)
I don’t have a poem to read. But I would like to read this short statement. It is for everyone here and everyone who can’t be here today but who have sent us messages of support or have visited the bookshop since I announced that it would be closing. I am sorry that I haven’t been able to speak or write back to you all individually. Angel, my wonderful shop manager, tells me everyone deserves a response, and she is right. So this is what I would like to say in reply.
If there’s one thing Hong Kong has taught me during the few years I’ve lived and had the bookshop here, it is that I now know what is possible. What’s possible that is good, and what’s possible that is bad. I would like to think that this bookshop represents the former — that is, the possible of what is good.
Even though I might be the person people think of when they think of Bleak House Books, I am not the sole reason the bookshop is what it is today. What you see here tonight and what we have all seen happen since I announced that Bleak House Books would be closing — the messages, the crowds, the tears — is a reflection of something very human and very fundamental. Some might call it love. Some might call it defiance. Some might call it art. But whatever it is exactly it is something that we created and nurtured together, as family, as friends, as a community. And it is good. We all know that, in our minds and in our hearts. And no one can ever take that away from us. No one.
Because I promised that this would be a short statement I am afraid I will be breaking that promise if I start speaking about the possible of the bad. At least as it relates to Hong Kong of the past few years. Suffice it to say that we too know what that is and what it might be in the future.
But just as we have been able to nurture the possible of the good together, we too must remember and face up to the possible of the bad together, wherever we might be or whatever we might end doing with our lives.
Many people have thanked us for having the bookshop and for doing the work that we do. I can’t speak for the rest of the bookshop family, but I’ve never done it for the thanks. If anything, giving life to Bleak House Books has become my way of thanking Hong Kong for being so good to me and my family. And so if there’s anyone who should be saying ‘thank you’ it should be me.
好多謝大家咁多年啲支持同埋關心. 我哋永遠唔會忘記你地. 香港人加油!